National

Hong Kong Airport disruption bad news for Japanese travelers

JTB staff seeking alternative flights for package tour customers

by Masumi Koizumi

Staff Writer

A sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport — a protest over a controversial extradition bill, police violence and other issues — on Monday and Tuesday could not have come at a worse time for people who booked vacations to coincide with the Bon holiday this week.

Hundreds of flights into or from Hong Kong remained canceled Tuesday, including at least 10 from Japan.

Among those affected, an Air India flight from Kansai International Airport to Hong Kong was canceled, and a Hong Kong Express Airways Ltd. flight to Tokyo International Airport was delayed by almost two hours, the Hong Kong airport’s website showed.

A spokeswoman at Tokyo-based travel agency JTB Corp. said staff were helping to re-book members of package tours, in addition to taking other measures to ensure they can return home.

There were no reports of JTB clients stranded in Hong Kong on Monday, she added, although some were late in getting home.

All flights to and from Hong Kong were canceled late Monday after thousands of protesters descended on the facility.

Another Tokyo-based travel agency, H.I.S. Co., declined to elaborate on the impact to its services, but a spokeswoman said the firm would fully refund tours for which flights out of Japan were canceled.

Such refunds are part of company policy, the spokeswoman added.

JTB said it would do the same if a flight departing from Japan is canceled, but in some circumstances the agency may offer alternative flights.

As for future tours, JTB will decide whether to continue operating package tours to Hong Kong “based on a travel warning issued by Japan’s Foreign Ministry, as usual,” the JTB spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, there were long lines at departure gates at some airports in Japan on Tuesday as people awaited their Hong Kong-bound flights.

Nara resident Haruka Noguchi, 27, who was flying to Dubai via Hong Kong, told Kyodo News she did not know what the situation was at the airport in Hong Kong. As a result she was worried about whether she could catch her connecting flight.

Information from Kyodo added

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