Hong Kong airport to deal with 150 more flights than usual to clear backlog from Typhoon Hato
Travellers camp out in terminals after missed flights and cancellations because of heavy weather on Wednesday
Up to 150 extra flights were expected to come in and out of Hong Kong on Thursday, as the airport battled to get back on track after the disruption brought by Typhoon Hato.
Those arrivals were expected to ease the plight of travellers stranded and camping out in terminals after the No 10 storm caused their flights to be cancelled.
Hong Kong International Airport’s operator said it had kept both runways open overnight – one normally closes at night for maintenance – to deal with the backlog from more than 450 cancelled flights. But it left it to airlines to request that measure for Thursday night.
Hato’s arrival on Wednesday caused the Observatory to issue a No 10 typhoon signal, the highest possible alert. It caused major damage around the city and even more in the wider region, killing eight people in Macau.
An Airport Authority spokeswoman said the airport would handle more than 1,200 arrivals and departures throughout Thursday, but a source at the airport said that figure would be more like 1,250.
Normally, the airport handles an average of 1,100 flights per day.
The authority estimated that about 600 flights came and went between 5pm on Wednesday and 6am on Thursday after the two runways were put in operation and more staff members deployed overnight.
A spokeswoman for customer services at Terminal 1 said almost all airlines were back to running normally on Thursday morning.
“Most passengers who had to transfer in Hong Kong but missed their flights may have to buy tickets again, but it’s possible that some airlines will take the responsibility to help them out,” she said.
A passenger from Australia, Samira Mahmood, 20, said she arrived at the airport at 1am on Thursday and missed her 12.30am flight to Seoul, South Korea.
“I’m quite lucky that staff at the airport took my passport and arranged a new flight for me which will take off at 1.10pm today without adding extra money,” she said.
“But a bunch of people were not that lucky; staff didn’t cope with their situations. They just fixed it out by themselves by [buying new] tickets.”
Riet Koenz, 24, a student from Switzerland, said he and two friends arrived at 3am on Thursday from Da Nang, Vietnam, and missed their flight to Shanghai at 10pm on Wednesday.
Camping inside Terminal 1, he was waiting for his friends to wake up before they bought tickets again.
“We were so tired and slept on the ground,” he said. “Fortunately we are on holiday and didn’t miss anything important.”
He said the airline he was flying with, Hong Kong Express, had given him no information on rearranging his flight.
And Mahmudah, 37, a domestic helper from India, said she had been at the airport since Tuesday evening.
She was sat on the floor with her friends and eating breakfast at 9am on Thursday.
“Cathay Pacific has arranged our new flight today at 2pm, nearly 24 hours delayed. And I feel satisfied by the schedule,” she said.