United Airlines is suspending its daily flight service from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Hong Kong following massive protests that have caused a huge drop in passengers.
“While our service between the United States and HKG (Hong Kong) remains a vital part of our network, we have decided to suspend service between ORD (Chicago) and HKG after the return flight from HKG on Sept. 9, 2019,” the company said in a statement.
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The route operated since 1996!
The airline has flown the route since 1996. Now, after years of flying, they are suspending it. The airline is not blaming the protests directly, although they do have a big part in the decision. The airline said that it has seen reduced demand for travel from Chicago even before the protests. The loss has increased dramatically since June when protesters first took the streets.
Hong Kong has been under mass demonstrations for three months now, and we are yet to see signs of slowing down. The Hong Kong protests were started by the extradition bill which would have allowed the extradition of fugitives to mainland China. This cancelation will leave United operating non-stop flights from Chicago to only two other Chinese destinations, Shanghai and Beijing.
Chicago will still have nonstop flights to Hong Kong operated by Cathay Pacific.
More than just airlines suffering business losses
“The impact on tourism is huge, half of the mainland visitors due in August are likely to cancel or defer their plans,” Yiu Si-wing, Hong Kong lawmaker, said in a press statement
Over the past three months, Hong Kong has seen a drop-down in hotel stays as well. Major hotel chains were putting their employees on mandatory leave and dropping down the prices. The hotels had an all-time low with their charges in over 50 years.
Cathay Pacific also suffered a financial loss following the airport sit-in protest. Mainland China issued demands because of Cathay Pacific’s involvement in the protests. Staff who support illegal protests are banned from Cathay services to the mainland and all Cathay crew need special approval to enter Chinese airspace. Needing Chinese approval to even enter their airspace has impacted Cathay flights. Third of Cathay business was their mainland connection, so it is estimated that they suffered a great financial loss. CNN reported that Cathay’s stock has plummeted nearly 24% since April.
(Vincent Thian / AP)