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With months of ongoing protests resulting in a drastic fall in arrivals, financial survival has replaced profitability as a main concern for Hong Kong's airlines.

Airlines operating in Hong Kong are urging the government to implement temporary policies to offset damage to their business as months of pro-democracy protests have disrupted operations and hurt visitor numbers.

In a letter to the Secretary for Transport and Housing, the Board of Airline Representatives, which represents 70 carriers operating in Hong Kong, asked for short-term measures including a waiver of landing and parking fees at the city’s airport.

“It would definitely help if the government could temporarily waive these operating expenses so that airlines operating in Hong Kong can remain commercially viable,” the board’s chairman, Ronald Lam, wrote in the letter, which was dated Sept. 16. “Many airlines have already reduced or cut their services to and from Hong Kong as many routes have become unprofitable.”

Tourism to Hong Kong declined almost 40% in August, according to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, as protests sparked by opposition to a bill on extraditions to mainland China meant fewer people visited the city and temporarily paralyzed the airport. The BAR’s Lam said the group expects the decline in passenger numbers to worsen through the rest of the year.

A representative from Hong Kong’s biggest carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said in a text message the company would welcome a temporary waiver of operating expenses as landing and parking fees at the airport along with rents represent “a significant expenditure.” The carrier’s passenger traffic fell the most in more than a decade in August.

The Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong said earlier this month that the number of Chinese group tours to the city in the first 10 days of September plunged 90% from a year earlier. That followed a 63% drop in August.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Kyunghee Park from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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Tags: cathay pacific, hong kong, hong kong protests

Photo credit: Two Cathay Pacific jets sit on the ground in Hong Kong. Bloomberg

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