Hong Kong aviation

Hong Kong Express cancels 18 ‘golden week’ flights to Japan and South Korea

Thousands of passengers likely to be affected by the cancellations next week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 September, 2017, 11:28pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 10:30am

Budget airline Hong Kong Express has cancelled 18 flights between Hong Kong and three cities in Japan and South Korea next week, affecting thousands of passengers travelling during the “golden week” of public holidays.

The Civil Aviation Department confirmed that Hong Kong Express notified it on Thursday that 18 regular flights between Hong Kong and Osaka, Nagoya and Seoul, scheduled to fly from October 1 to 8, would be cancelled.

“The department is highly concerned about the inconvenience and impact brought by the incident to passengers,” a department spokesman said.

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There will be an extended period of holidays next week, as the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival public holidays fall in the same week, on Monday and Thursday respectively.

“We think it is extremely unsatisfactory to see numerous passengers affected with a drastic change of flights ahead of a travel peak,” the spokesman said.

The airline said: “We have taken immediate and proactive measures to address this concern and are doing our utmost to remedy the situation.

“HK Express is actively contacting the affected guests for the arrangement and keeping them updated.”

The airline has sent out notifications to all affected passengers and offered them options including alternative flights with other carriers, flying to a different place or at a different time, or a full refund.

The department still did not know all the details behind the cancellations and had asked the airline for a full report.

The Post understands the mass cancellation was partly due to a shortage of pilots and crew trained in dealing with emergencies. Instructors responsible for the training recently resigned after a dispute with senior managers.

Flights cannot operate without crew trained in emergency procedures.

The department met airline managers on Friday morning, and demanded the company contact affected passengers as soon as possible for refunds or other arrangements.

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The department said passengers could demand a refund or other arrangement based on the terms and conditions of air tickets.

Since middle of the month, the department has also been notified and is following up on an issue relating to a lack of instructors in the airline’s safety training unit.

“The airline has been asked to submit a long-term solution on insufficient manpower as soon as possible,” the spokesman said, adding that there had been numerous meetings with airline managers on the issue.

Owned by mainland firm HNA Group, Hong Kong Express is the only locally based budget airline. It flies between Hong Kong and cities in Asian countries or territories, including the mainland, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam.

Additional reporting by Danny Lee