Blocking transportation links to Hong Kong International Airport would violate a court injunction barring protesters from impeding airport operations, and thus such behavior would lead to contempt-of-court lawsuits, authorities said Friday.
They made the comments as the Hong Kong High Court extended an interim injunction that bans protesters from impeding airport operations. The decision came after another protest to cripple all traffic to the airport was planned for Saturday by anti-government groups.
The injunction, set to expired at the end of Friday (Aug 23), was extended to enjoin protesters from assembling at one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs. The injunction was issued amid escalating violence during airport protests that disrupted operations and led to the cancelation of nearly 1,000 flights.
“Blocking roads and railway links to the airport is also regarded as unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the airport,” said Lau Wing-kei, deputy district commander of the Airport District. He warned at a police news briefing Friday afternoon that anyone who violates the injunction could be sued for contempt of court.
Frank Chan Fan, secretary for transport and housing, made the same comment in an interdepartmental news conference the same day. He reminded the public not to violate the injunction.
Justice Wilson Chan Ka-shun said he had no hesitation over continuing the order to maintain the status quo until trial or further order of the court, as the threat of disturbances at the airport continues, including repeated calls on social media to obstruct access control points to prevent passengers from entering the airport.
Chan stressed that “the smooth operation of the airport is of crucial significance to Hong Kong, in particular the security and safety of its residents and travelers, its commercial interests, as well as its international reputation.”
In a statement published in several local newspapers, the Airport Authority appealed to youngsters not to participate in or support acts that disrupt airport services and undermine the airport’s reputation.
Tens of thousands of workers earn their living from airport-related industries, including aviation, tourism, logistics and trade, the authority said.
Meanwhile, seven civil aviation trade unions in Hong Kong issued a joint statement Thursday that strongly condemned the demonstrators’ attempts at continuing disturbances at the airport in the coming weekend and criticized the demonstrators for their extremely selfish act of damaging the livelihoods of so many airport employees.
In response to the call to block roads to the airport Saturday, the city’s land transportation sector, in a newspaper advertisement, urged the protesters to avoid obstructing traffic, and costing professional drivers their livelihoods.
Airport throughput, tourism plummets
Hong Kong’s tourism and logistics businesses suffered a downturn in August with figures slumping, heads of multiple departments of the government announced Friday.
As of Wednesday, the airport has handled 4.16 million passengers, a drop of 11 percent year-on-year. The cargo throughput at the airport in August also dropped by 14 percent year-on-year to 250,000 metric tons, Chan said. Over 1,000 flights were canceled, he added.
The number of visitor arrivals in Hong Kong has plunged 49.6 percent year-on-year from Aug 15 through Tuesday, according to Edward Yau Tang-wah, the city’s secretary for commerce and economic development.
A total of 31 countries have issued travel warnings for Hong Kong as of Friday.