Dire economic consequences expected for airport closure

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Photo: Food Court in Terminal 1 by Malcolm Koo CC-BY-SA 4.0

Protesters continued a four day occupation of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), swelling numbers yesterday to force a shutdown of the facility and the cancellation of more than 180 flights

The shutdown of the world’s eighth busiest airport is a huge feat. Thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport and airlines frantically worked to accommodate the  cancellations. While the economic impact has as of yet to be tallied, speculations are that the consequences to Hong Kong’s economy will not only be large in the short term, but will also last well after airport operations are back in place.

Geoffrey Thomas, Editor in Chief of AirlineRatings.com, states that this closure will undoubtedly cost them “tens of millions of dollars”. While mass protests over the past two months have deterred people from passing through Hong Kong, Monday’s events are to certainly see travellers reschedule future flights or book flights that avoid the city.

In late December last year, a drone attack caused Britain’s second largest airport, London Gatwick (LGW), to close for three days. According to an article from The Guardian, this impromptu shutdown cost the airport £1.4 million. The Independent suggested a much higher impact, estimating the total cost of the drone incident last year at over £50 million, with the airport losing £15 million and carriers losing between £35 and £40 million. 400 flights were cancelled in the 33 hours LGW closed its runways.

Given that it was less than a week before Christmas – a busy time for the airport – the high loss of revenue is unsurprising. While the circumstances, duration, and other factors surrounding HKG’s closure differ from the case in London, one can expect significant damages have been incurred from Monday’s events, both in the short and long term.

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