Hong Kong: airlines slash capacities and fares

The situation in Hong Kong, now in its 15th week is having a devastating impact on tourism and business travel.

Major airlines from United to Qantas are slashing routes completely or cutting capacity by moving to smaller aircraft.

Chinese domestic airlines are doing the same as the protests put off travellers.

Cathay Pacific, already in turmoil after Beijing effectively stepped in to force out its senior managers for not cooperating in identifying staff who were also protestors, is said to be slashing prices to try and attract flyers.

Hotels are laying off staff and even some of the priciest 5 stars are offering bargain rates for those wishing to risk it.

Some routes like United’s from Chicago have been suspended completely due to lack of sales.

Qantas has swapped aircraft and reduced capacity by 7% with more reductions likely. Overall travel to Hong Kong from the west has fallen by some 20% and regionally by around 10%.

For a destination like Hong Kong these numbers are measuring in millions of passengers, not just a few thousand.

The longer the protests go on the worse it will get for the airlines, and this week there was a notable uplift in violent behaviour.

Nothing will happen before the October 70th Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party takeover, but after that, if violence escalates further, a crackdown is inevitably coming.

Quite what that will do to the likes of Cathay Pacific is hard to fathom, but there have already been rumours – denied so far, that Air China – the state owned national airline of the People’s Republic- is looking to acquire the airline.