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Asia’s Biggest Airline Meeting Canceled Due to Hong Kong Unrest

  • Cathay Pacific was the airline due to host the 2019 gathering
  • Hong Kong protests have intensified, causing major disruptions

The biggest annual gathering of Asian airline executives, planned for Hong Kong next week, has been canceled after protests in the city escalated.

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., this year’s hosts, decided to cancel the event after careful deliberation, according to a statement. The meeting of the presidents of airlines in the region was scheduled for Nov. 21 and 22.

“This was a very difficult decision, given our commitment to organize this important industry event, but reflects the unpredictability of the situation in Hong Kong,” AAPA said in the statement. “At the same time, the well-being of our delegates and guests has always been of paramount important.”

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Protesters paralyzed much of Hong Kong this week by disrupting subway lines and blocking roads. Tear gas has been fired by police in parts of the city, including the Central financial district, and there have been battles with students around university grounds. The protests, which previously were mostly confined to weekends, have pushed the economy into recession and hurt businesses, including flag carrier Cathay Pacific. The airline reported another slump in monthly traffic on Wednesday.

The AAPA gathering is held every year with its 15-member airlines taking turns to host. Last year, the meeting to discuss industry issues was held in South Korea and hosted by Korean Air Lines Co.