Aviation

Joyce says Qantas will cut capacity on Hong Kong flights due to ongoing protests

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has gone on record as saying the airline will cut capacity on Hong Kong flights as a result of continuing pro-democracy protests.

Flight bookings to Hong Kong are down 10 per cent, Joyce revealed in an interview with CNBCand as a result, Qantas will cut capacity on Hong Kong flights by up to seven per cent.

He added the airline will switch to smaller aircraft on these routes, while shifting bigger aircraft capacity to other markets, like Singapore and Manila, which Joyce said are showing “really strong growth”.

“Anytime we’ve seen some political unrest … we do see a hit that happens. Usually that’s short term and the recovery once the issue is resolved … happens very rapidly,” Joyce said.

“We are seeing around a 10 per cent drop in our Hong Kong volumes.”

The move by Qantas comes as Hong Kong’s protests move into their 12th week, with no signs of slowing down.

Last weekend saw 1.7 million Hong Kong citizens take to the streets in the rain to protest in favour of democracy, which came after sit-ins at Hong Kong International Airport that saw thousands of flights cancelled and peaceful protests turn sour when police clashed with protesters.

The rallies began in June as a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill for Hong Kongers to mainland China, which has since been suspended.

The airport cracked down on protesters following the sit-ins, but the protests had taken their toll on Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific, with CEO Rupert Hogg stepping down after the airline’s commitment to flight safety and security had been called into question.

Joyce’s comments came in lieu of Qantas’ release of its financial results for FY19, with the airline posting a 6.5 per cent drop in net profit after tax to $891 million for the last financial year, and a 16.8 per cent fall in underlying profit before tax to $1.3 billion.

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