BANGKOK — A Thai Airways flight to Hong Kong was forced to return to Bangkok on Monday due to protests that shut down Hong Kong International Airport, although flights resumed Tuesday.
Thai Airways flight TG638 left Bangkok at 1:55pm on Monday and was supposed to land in Hong Kong on 5:40pm, but it was forced to circle back to base and landed at 9:10pm. The national carrier cancelled all its flights to and from Hong Kong Monday.
Thai Airways canceled a total of five flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong or vice versa scheduled to fly Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning: TG606, TG602, TG639, and TG607 on Monday, and TG603 on Tuesday morning.
Though the flights resumed Tuesday, stranded Thailand-bound passengers are still making their way back.
“The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Hong Kong recommends every Thai closely follow the status of their flight with their airline. Set aside extra time to travel to the airport and for check-in, due to the large numbers of stranded passengers,” the consulate’s Facebook wrote Tuesday.
The consulate added that they expect stranded Thais to catch the 6:55am Cathay Pacific flight, 8:55am Hong Kong Airlines flight, or the Thai Airways TG601 flight which is delayed until 1:15pm.
Thai Airways said they would waive fees for people forced to reschedule their flights.
AirAsia also cancelled three other Hong Kong flights on Monday.
Protests in Hong Kong initially ignited in March against a bill that would allow extradition of Hong Kongers and foreigners to mainland China. The protests have progressively expanded and clashed with police, with Beijing harshly criticizing the movement as “terrorism.” Protestors moved into the airport on Monday.
The protests, which have seen both sides adopt increasingly extreme tactics, had until Monday been mostly confined to neighborhoods across the former British colony. But the airport protest, which caused the cancellation of more than 150 flights, was a rare case of the movement having a direct impact on business travel and tourism – mainstays of the Asian business center’s economy.
Additional reporting Kelvin Chan, Associated Press