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Hong Kong aviation

Cathay Pacific reviews state of emergency as Maldives political crisis deepens

Adding to uncertainty for Lunar New Year holidaymakers, Hong Kong’s flagship airline acknowledges the change in security conditions after president declares 15-day state of emergency

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 12:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 6:22pm

Cathay Pacific Airways is reviewing a 15-day state of emergency in the Maldives, hours after a political crisis in the Indian Ocean island nation deepened.

Adding uncertainty for Lunar New Year holidaymakers, Hong Kong’s flagship airline acknowledged on Twitter on Tuesday the change in security conditions.

Maldives chief justice, top judge arrested as President Yameen clashes with Supreme Court over jailed politicians

A day earlier, China’s foreign ministry had advised its citizens to avoid visiting the Maldives until the political tensions subsided.

Cathay Pacific said: “Operations at the airport in Male, the capital of the Maldives, are reported as normal. We are monitoring the developments closely.” Rival carrier Hong Kong Airlines said it was “closely monitoring the situation in the Maldives. Flight operations are currently normal”.

Instability over the years has roiled the tiny island nation archipelago. The situation came to a head after a court ruling last week ordered the country’s president, Abdulla Yameen, to release political prisoners.

Defying the order, a 15-day state of emergency was declared on Monday which saw the ex-president detain two of the country’s top judges, including the chief justice. The upgraded status gave the country’s security forces vastly increased powers of arrest.

China warns tourists to postpone trips to the Maldives

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau called on residents to “monitor the situation”, take care of their personal safety and avoid travelling to places where there were large gatherings of people. The bureau, however, did not add the Maldives to its official travel warning list, rather it put it on an annexed, unofficial list of countries on watch, adding that it would closely monitor the latest situation.

However, given the evolving situation, Hong Kong residents in the country could call the department’s 24-hour hotline at (852) 1868 for help.

Away from political unrest, the Maldives is a popular exotic holiday destination and a tropical paradise famed for its islands, beaches and crystal clear waters. Cathay Pacific flies six times a week and Hong Kong Airlines recently started flights to the island three times a week.

Tuniu, a major Chinese tour operator, said it was planning for possible adjustments to Maldives trips.

It said all the tourists who used its services and were now in or on their way to the Maldives had reported being safe as of 10am on Tuesday. None had changed their itinerary, it said.

“For those who haven’t started their journey, Tuniu will closely follow up the situation in the Maldives and advice from its government, and adjust the itinerary to ensure their safety,” it said.

Jason Shi, a public relations manager from online travel agent Lvmama, said the company had launched a contingency plan and was checking the itinerary of clients booked to travel to the Maldives.

“We will adjust their itinerary if they are going to Male city after landing at the airport,” he said.

Bookings on its platform for the Maldives during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday were double the usual number, Shi said.

“We haven’t received any requests from tourists to alter or cancel their plans,” he added.

On Tuesday, Cathay Pacific removed advertising the Maldives as one of its top holiday destinations which was advertised as part of its weekly discounted flights promotion offers.