Hong Kong, Sep 17 (IANS) Hong Kong Airlines announced on Tuesday that it will cut 7 per cent of its passenger flights until the end of the year since the number of tourists coming to the city has dropped sharply due to the ongoing anti-government protests.
The city’s third-largest airline said it would shrink its business in an attempt to limit losses from thousands of customers cancelling Hong Kong travel plans, reports the South China Morning Post.
The airline added that it will also slash the number of available air tickets for sale by 9 per cent.
“Travel demand has declined sharply due to recurring issues in Hong Kong. In response to the current market conditions, we have temporarily reduced our capacity,” a spokeswoman for Hong Kong Airlines said.
Addressing the cut in flights, the arline said it had left open the possibility of more reductions, hinting at putting staff on unpaid leave, but stressed there was “no plan” for job cuts.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make further adjustments if required, including internal arrangements to support our operation in the coming months,” the spokeswoman said, adding “Hong Kong Airlines remains committed to offering a sustainable travel service to our customers”.
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said last week that it would no longer expand by 6 per cent over the winter as it grappled with the protests and the impact of pressure from Beijing – factors which have led to steep declines in business on mainland China routes.
On an average, Hong Kong Airlines has 50 passenger flights departing the city daily, the South China Morning Post reported.
In total, the Hong Kong International Airport handles 450 departures carrying passengers every day, half of them from Cathay Pacific Group airlines.
Hong Kong Airlines reported a 13 per cent decline in travel for August.
Meanwhile, the Cathay Pacific Group announced an 11.3 per cent drop in passengers travelling in August compared with the previous year, including a 38 per cent slump in arrivals to the city, leading to a hiring freeze and cost-cutting.
Foreign airlines have also made changes. Australia’s Qantas cut its Hong Kong capacity by 7 per cent, by switching to smaller widebody planes and, as of last weekend, the US’ United Airlines was set to slash the number of seats it sells to the city by 25 per cent by the winter.