Thai Airways Completes Hong Kong Rescue Flights After Airport Closure

Thai Airways has just completed a mammoth rescue operation to save thousands of passengers stranded by the Hong Kong airport shutdown, carrying well-over 3,000 passengers in just two days.

Thai Airways Airbus A380 in flight
Thai Airways has successfully rescued all stranded passengers. Photo: Wikimedia.

What are the details?

Hong Kong International Airport became the epicenter of the protest for civil rights earlier this week, when demonstrators shut down the airport for two days. They blocked access inside of the main terminal building between the check-in desks and passport control. They prevented any departing passengers from boarding flights, effectively shutting down the airport for two days.

Passengers found themselves stranded, with airlines unable to solve the problem.

It was only when the Hong Kong High Court granted the airport special powers to remove the protestors (airport security did not initially have the authority to remove people from the country-side of the airport) that they were able to begin operations again

Thai Airways Completes Hong Kong Rescue Flights After Airport Closure
The special order from the Hong Kong government. Photo: Hong Kong Airport Authority

With the airport now secure and operational again, airlines were faced with an interesting challenge to quickly deal with the vast backlog of passengers waiting in Hong Kong.

What did Thai Airways do?

On Tuesday evening, after five days of delays, Thai Airways had 2,800 passengers holding reservations in Hong Kong and Bangkok. In order to get as many passengers out as possible and resume normal services, Thai Airways upgraded services on their five daily flights between the two cities.

“Today (13 August 2019) Airport Authority Hong Kong announced operational resume at the airport, which allowed Thai to resume its operations. Thai has upsized its aircraft to accommodate 578 Thai stranded passengers and expected to completely transport all stranded passengers by today,” said Thai’s vice president, aviation safety, security and standards Pratana Patanasiri in a statement to Business Traveller.

The flights, which are normally operated by Airbus A330s were upgraded with Boeing 777-300ER and A350 aircraft.

Flight radar Thai
The flight radar history of one of the Thai Airways flights. Notice the A380 put in place of the A350. Photo: Flight Radar 24

According to Business Traveller, the flights specifically were:

Five flights from Bangkok-Hong Kong:

Flights TG600/628/606/638/602 on 14 August 2019. Carried a total of 1,420 passengers, including 1 infant.

Five flights from Hong Kong-Bangkok:

Flights TG603/601/629/607/639 on 14 August 2019. Carried a total of 1,380 passengers, including 6 infants.

Passengers who had been delayed were allowed to change their bookings without charge up till August 20th. The last flight, TG603, successfully topped off the last remaining passengers who were left behind.

“Thai’s morning flight TG603 was able to according to the regular schedule, with departure from Hong Kong International Airport at 07.44 hours and arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 09.25 hours, 289 passengers were carried, all holding reservations, and without any passengers remaining.”Thai Airways statement to Business Traveller. 

What do you think? Was this a good effort by the airline? Let us know in the comments below.