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Hong Kong’s Economy Shudders as Its Airport Descends into Chaos

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Hong Kong’s Economy Shudders as Its Airport Descends into Chaos


HONG KONG — Violence and disarray at Hong Kong’s modern, efficient airport have cast a fresh shadow over the territory’s status as a global financial and business capital.

Demonstrators largely retreated from the airport on Wednesday after two chaotic days in which hundreds of flights were canceled. Late Tuesday, protesters, police officers and passengers clashed in the same sleek terminals through which executives and financiers transit daily. But the anxiety created by the violence could linger, as businesses weigh their futures in a city once lauded for its stability.

“The airport is crucial, utterly crucial for Hong Kong,” said Tara Joseph, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Business travelers, she said, have been canceling trips in significant numbers.

Many of Hong Kong’s most important industries — trade, finance, tourism — depend on ready access to the skies. If the antigovernment demonstrations this summer have tested the semiautonomous territory’s political union with China, then the airport disruptions have threatened something much more basic: the easy accessibility that makes Hong Kong such a valuable gateway to China for the rest of the world.

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