Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Hong Kong airport cancels flights as protests continue for the second day

Bearing batons and pepper spray, Hong Kong riot police officers clashed with anti-government protesters who crippled the airport on Tuesday for the second straight day, chaos that underscored the deepening unrest gripping the city.

The mayhem at the airport -- in the Asian financial hub known for efficiency and order -- came hours after mass protests forced the airport to suspend check-ins, as it had done on Monday. The city’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, had pleaded earlier for order after days of escalating street violence.

Thousands of demonstrators had occupied parts of Hong Kong International Airport’s departures and arrivals halls on Tuesday afternoon, with some using luggage trolleys to block travelers from reaching their departure gates. The Hong Kong Airport Authority later closed check-in services and advised all passengers to leave as soon as possible.

As of early Tuesday evening, some arriving flights were still scheduled, along with some departures, apparently for passengers who had managed to clear immigration before check-in closed. But Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, told its customers to postpone “nonessential travel” out of the city for the rest of the day and on Wednesday.

Monday was the first day that demonstrators had seriously disrupted operations at the airport, one of the world’s busiest. The escalation of the protests is another sign that the two-month-old movement is turning to increasingly desperate measures, amid threats from Beijing and the refusal of Mrs. Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, to meet their demands.