Protesters barricade the departure terminal at Hong Kong International Airport with baggage trollies, while stranded passengers sit on the ground beside their luggage. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
Logistics industry players are apprehensive that prolonged protests at Hong Kong International Airport may take their toll on the cargo transportation business.
“If the protests at the airport go on, it will certainly have a huge impact on the local logistics sector,” warned Frankie Yick Chi-ming, who represents the transport functional constituency in the Legislative Council.
“If global exporters opt for other airports in Asia to ship their cargo, it would mean a loss of business for Hong Kong airport that can never be recovered,” he told China Daily.
HKIA, which handled more than 427,000 flights last year, is the world’s third-busiest hub for international passenger traffic, and the world’s largest air-cargo aviation hub. International exporters rely on the special administrative region to transport freight to all parts of the world.
“Besides its sound financial system, the city’s international airport is a huge contributor to the local economy by facilitating passenger and cargo flow. If the ongoing protests hit the airport’s cargo business, it’ll eventually affect the logistics industry,” said Yick.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said on Monday about 200,000 passengers use HKIA each day, and the protests will affect 800,000 people whose lives are closely related to the industrial chains that rely on the airport’s operations, as well as the everyday transport of 100,000 residents living around Tung Chung.
The airport remained partially paralyzed for the second day on Tuesday, with scores of flights canceled after protesters resumed their sit-in at the departure and arrival halls.
Although operations gradually returned to normal on Tuesday after Airport Authority Hong Kong rescheduled flights, more than 200 flights had to be scrapped.
“The cargo business does not have a crystal ball to assess the long-term impact on the industry as there’re so many uncertain factors,” said Anthony Leung Ming-tim, managing director for Hong Kong and Macao at global courier giant FedEx Express.
“While FedEx will monitor market developments closely, it’ll also keep track of clients’ demands so that we can deliver logistics services to meet their needs,” he said.
France-based SocieteGenerale SA estimates that HKIA accounts for up to 5 percent of the city’s gross domestic product through direct and indirect contributions.
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