Anti-extradition bill protesters 0212
Anti-extradition bill protesters use trolleys to stop passengers from entering the security gates during a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye, at the Hong Kong international airport, in Hong Kong, China. Photo taken on August 13, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Dubai: Emirates passengers are considering themselves lucky to get out of Hong Kong when they did on Tuesday, after a brief window between closures of the airport due to protests.

An unnamed couple from New Zealand travelling from Auckland to Edinburgh via Hong Kong had their initial onward flight cancelled on Monday but were then able to leave the following day when the airport briefly reopened — before closing again.

“They rescheduled a special flight the next day, i.e. yesterday [Tuesday] to get us out,” said a female passenger, in messages forwarded to Gulf News by a UK-based relative.

“We were very lucky the airport opened when it did and Emirates got into gear to get us out.

They rescheduled a special flight the next day [Tuesday] to get us out. We were very lucky the airport opened when it did and Emirates got into gear to get us out.

- A woman passenger

“The protesters were in their thousands at the airport when we arrived. We spoke to some of them to get a sense of their complaints, there was a lot of shouting targeted at the visitors with pamphlets handed out.

“There’s lots of evidence in Hong Kong of graffiti and slogans stating ‘Free Hong Kong’. They don’t want the Chinese communist peoples party coming in and taking away their rights of a democracy, etc,” added the passenger.

The couple were put up in a hotel in Dubai last night — with food and stay paid for by the airline — before flying on to Edinburgh on Wednesday morning, arriving 24 hours later than they should have done due to the disruption.

Emirates also won praise from other stranded passengers on twitter with one flying via another airline saying: “I was due to fly to Hong Kong this weekend and from Hong Kong to Dublin on Sunday. Requested to fly from a different destination on Sunday, to avoid travel to Hong Kong. [unnamed European airline] point blank refused to allow us to change any of our flight details, even when we offered to pay the balance.

“Meanwhile, our friend, under the exact same circumstances, was able to change her flight with Emirates, at an additional cost, but with no hassle. I know who I’ll be flying with next time.”

Meanwhile, the UAE Consulate in Hong Kong has issued a travel advisory to Emirati citizens as a result of the protests.

“The UAE Consulate General in Hong Kong draws attention of UAE nationals to the announcement of the Hong Kong Airport Authority to cancel all flights scheduled for Monday amid thousands protesting at the airport for the fourth consecutive day,” the consulate tweeted.

“The Consulate urges citizens to contact 0085228661823 in case of emergency or 8004444 to reach the contact office of MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), as well as to register themselves on the Tawajudi app.”

UAE airlines Emirates and Etihad have faced cancellations and delays as a result of the protests and are “monitoring the situation” as of their latest statements with passengers asked to contact the respective airlines to check the status of their flights.

As of now the airport has reopened on Wednesday morning.