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(LEAD) Flights connecting S. Korea, Hong Kong canceled due to protest

Retail/Tourism 23:36 August 12, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details in para 6)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- Multiple flights connecting South Korea with Hong Kong were nixed on Monday due to a massive protest at Hong Kong International Airport.

According to the transport ministry here, Hong Kong aviation authorities issued a "notice to airmen" saying the airport was shut down as of 5:30 p.m. and will remain closed until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

A ministry official said there were to have been 23 flights to and from Hong Kong during that time frame. Ten flights operated by South Korean carriers were canceled, while 13 others, operated by foreign airlines, were also likely scrapped.

Passengers bound for Hong Kong are stranded at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Aug. 12, 2019, after Hong Kong International Airport shut down its operations due to a pro-democracy protest. (Yonhap)

Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are among the domestic carriers flying to and from Hong Kong, while Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines also operate on the routes.

The ministry official said operations at Hong Kong's main airport may be affected even on Tuesday and added it will keep tabs on the situation to minimize inconvenience to passengers.

South Korean travelers scheduled to fly out of Hong Kong Monday were scrambling to find alternatives ways to leave, with some managing to find a Seoul-bound flight out of nearby Macau. Hong Kong media reported that Chinese travelers were opting to take trains or buses, which have not been disrupted, to the nearby city of Shenzhen so they can board flights to other parts of China.

The Associated Press reported from Hong Kong that the airport could process flights at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators took over the airport's main terminal earlier Monday, protesting a bill that would allow criminal extradition to mainland China. Protesters believe the bill, now suspended, is an attempt by China to undermine democracy in Hong Kong.

Demonstrators have also taken exception to what they believe is violent police suppression of protestors. Police have fired tear gas and bean bag rounds, causing dozens of injuries.

A sign at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, west of Seoul, announces the cancellation of a South Korean flight to Hong Kong on Aug. 12, 2019. Hong Kong International Airport shut down its operations on the day due to a pro-democracy protest. (Yonhap)


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