Hong Kong weather

Flights to Hong Kong International Airport diverted to Macau and Shenzhen as heavy fog causes delays

Affected aircraft include at least seven operated by Cathay Pacific and three by Hong Kong Airlines

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 10:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 3:24pm

Thick fog and poor visibility around Hong Kong International Airport led to a dozen flights from as far as Europe and North America being diverted to Macau and Shenzhen on Friday morning, as well as average flight delays of up to an hour.

The diverted aircraft included at least seven operated by Cathay Pacific Airways and three by Hong Kong Airlines between 6am and 8am.

Flights from Los Angeles, London, Johannesburg, Auckland and Bangkok were among those affected. Two cargo planes, including one operated by Singapore Airlines, were also diverted.

According to a flight tracking website, the average delay at 10am was one hour for departing flights. No significant delays were shown for arrival flights.

A spokeswoman for the Airport Authority said 10 arrival flights had been delayed due to the foggy weather. When asked about the number of delayed flights, the airport operator did not provide figures.

Visibility was reduced to as little as 330 metres at the airport, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. 

A photo posted on social media that was taken next to a plane on the airport tarmac showed how the wing tip of the aircraft, as well as the plane in front of it, could barely be seen in the heavy fog.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement: “Seven Cathay Pacific flights inbound to Hong Kong were diverted this morning to Macao and Shenzhen due to low visibility at Hong Kong International Airport.

“The flights will depart for Hong Kong as soon as the situation permits. Passengers with onward connections from Hong Kong will be assisted by our airport team.”

As Hong Kong’s biggest airline, Cathay Pacific was disproportionately affected. Most of its diverted planes had returned to Hong Kong by Friday afternoon, but a flight from Los Angeles flight remained in Shenzhen while one from Paris flight was still in Macau.

Hong Kong Airlines, the city’s third largest carrier, similarly had one Bangkok and Auckland flight parked in Shenzhen as of 3pm. The airline said its stranded passengers had been looked and were given onboard refreshments.

It added that staff members on standby had been dispatched to help return the diverted flight to Hong Kong.

A knock-on effect on the morning roster of flights continued into the afternoon according to Flight Radar 24. Hong Kong remained among the top five airports around the world to suffer major delays on flights taking off.