Singapore — Demonstrations in the airport in Hong Kong brought flights to a standstill on Monday, August 12, stranding thousands of passengers and causing many airlines economic loss.
Every single flight both going in and coming out of Hong Kong International Airport was eventually canceled because of the protestors’ sit-in.
A Scoot flight from Singapore was one of the flights affected by the unrest at the Hong Kong Airport and needed to make a u-turn when it was just half an hour away from its destination, returning to Singapore on Monday evening.
A spokesperson for Scoot told The Straits Times (ST) that Flight TR 980, which had 122 passengers on board, had been scheduled to land in Hong Kong at 6:05 pm local time.
But by 5:30 the plan was abruptly changed. Groups of demonstrators had been protesting at the airport all weekend long, but thousands of people gathered there on Monday, spurred by what many deemed as unnecessary police violence against the protestors on Sunday.
The large crowds caused the airport to cancel all incoming and outgoing flights, but later in the day, due to rumours that police would come, the crowds began to disperse.
Hong Kong International Airport handles over 1,000 flights daily and is a major transport hub to around 200 destinations all over the world.
By 6:00 am on Tuesday (local time) flight schedules had been restored.
In the meantime, flight-tracking website FlightAware showed the Scoot flight turning approximately around half an hour before its scheduled landing in Hong Kong, and it arrived back in Singapore shortly after 9:00 in the evening.
ST reports one passenger as saying that the captain of the flight had originally said that the plane would be landing on Macau, due to the closure of the airport due to the sit-in. Afterwards, the passengers were told that all the alternative landing sites— Macau, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, were already full, therefore the plane had no choice but to return to Singapore.
The budget airline’s spokesman apologised to the passengers for the inconvenience due to the plane’s inability to land. Scoot offered free re-booking of the flight within two weeks of the original date, for Singapore-Hong Kong, Hong Kong-Singapore, Singapore-Macau, or Macau-Singapore flights, or passengers may opt for a full refund through the company’s travel vouchers.
Six flights in all from Changi Airport bound to Hong Kong on the afternoon of August 12 were cancelled, three from Cathay Pacific, two from Singapore Airlines, and one from Scoot.
A spokesman from the Changi Airport website said, “Singapore residents (due to fly to Hong Kong on the affected flights) have been advised to return home or not to leave for the airport given the current situation. Those who had checked in have been allowed to collect their baggage.
Non-residents have been advised to check with their airline regarding options available to them which may include alternate flights to their final destination for those who were going to transit in Hong Kong.”/ TISG