NEW DELHI: Anti-government protests in Hong Kong forced airport authorities to suspend flights for the second day in a row on Tuesday.
India’s national carrier Air India, too, cancelled flights to and from Hong Kong, and was offering full refund on tickets, according to tour operators, who said they too were waiving off cancellation charges on that sector.
“Air India cancelled flights and was giving a full refund. For Cathay Pacific, you can switch over to other partner carriers which is much more traveller friendly,” said Sharat Dhall, COO, B2C at Yatra.com. “We are waiving off the cancellation charges on Hong Kong flights for the next few days. We hope the situation returns to normal.”
Authorities in Hong Kong are facing pro-democracy protests. What started in June as a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill—which has now been withdrawn—has widened into a larger anti-government movement.
Indiver Rastogi, president, global business travel, Thomas Cook, said his company is in constant touch with its customers and has kept them updated of developments.
Daniel D’souza, country head, leisure, SOTC Travel, said, “With the current situation in Hong Kong, customers are advised to postpone all non-essential travel until normalcy ensues. We are in constant touch with our customers and have made avenues for assistance at every point.”
SOTC has also postponed the scheduled departures to Hong Kong by a day, D’souza said, adding “We are suggesting alternate routes to avoid any inconvenience.”
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) told ET that Airport Authority Hong Kong is working with airlines on rescheduling flights and that its hotel and tourism partners are prepared to provide necessary assistance to minimise disruption to travellers in case “unforeseen circumstances arise”.
As per HKTB, 80% of the Indian overnight arrivals come on multiple destination itineraries. “Visitors are also advised to check DiscoverHongKong.com or travellers can contact Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Visitor Service Centre via email ([email protected]) or hotline (2508-1234) for the latest information in Hong Kong. Visitors are advised to check with airlines, the airport’s website or the “HKG My Flight” mobile app for the latest flight information,” a spokesperson from the tourism board said.
Hong Kong recorded 208,780 Indian visitor arrivals between January and June this year, a growth of 2.2% over the same period last year.
Kapil Goswamy, MD, Bigbreaks.com, said booking queries for Hong Kong have declined by 50% over the past one month following the political crisis.