13 AUG 2019: Hong Kong's airport, one of the world's busiest, cancelled more than 150 flights on Monday after thousands of protesters crowded into the main terminal. A statement by HKG stated that the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations and all check-in services for departing flights had been suspended.

Thousands of supporters of the largely leaderless pro-democracy protest movement descended on the terminal in an effort to get the message out to the world about their struggle and the harsh tactics used by police. Many wore eye patches to show their solidarity with a female protester who reportedly was hit in the eye by a projectile fired by police.

Airport staff advised passengers to leave the airport for their own safety, but traffic outside was at a near standstill, and public transportation was clogged. Some passengers and departing pro-testers opted to walk.

Flights were to resume at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

CATHAY PACIFIC

Hours after the airport announced the shutdown, the chief executive of Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways said there would be “disciplinary consequences” for employees involved in “illegal protests.”

Rupert Hogg warned in an internal memo to employees that the company has a “zero tolerance approach to illegal activities,” referring apparently to protests unapproved by the police force. A Cathay Pacific pilot was charged with rioting and two ground staff fired for misconduct, the air-line said by email Monday.

Hong Kong has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic re-forms and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

The protest movement's demands also include the resignation of the Chinese territory's leader and an election for her successor.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle.

Companies from luxury fashion brands to bubble tea shops have been under pressure to distance themselves from protesters and declare their support for the ruling Communist Party's position on Hong Kong. Hong Kong officials warned that Monday's protest risked hurting the city's reputation as a travel and transport centre.

HONG KONG AIRPORT

Hong Kong's international airport was built on land reclaimed from the sea and opened in 1998, replacing an aging airstrip in the middle of the crowded, mountainous city. More than 100 air-lines travel to 190 locations.

The airport handled 75.3 million passengers in 2018, making it the world's second-busiest inter-national airport after Dubai, according to preliminary data from Airports Council International .

The shutdown left thousands of business travellers stranded.

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