Travellers in Hong Kong‘s airport voiced support for pro-democracy demonstrators on Tuesday, despite an overnight occupation of the international transit hub that saw tens of thousands of passengers stranded.
The airport, one of the busiest in the world, reopened on Tuesday morning but hundreds of flights remained cancelled and several hundred protesters returned for a fresh rally on Tuesday afternoon.
Monday’s abrupt closure came 10 weeks into a crisis that has seen millions of people take to Hong Kong’s streets in the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.
“It may affect me, but I still know what they are doing and I support them so it doesn’t matter, said 27-year-old advertising worker Mag Mak, whose flight back home to Hong Kong from Dubai was delayed by five hours.
“I think the government is so rubbish and they don’t have any response to the protesters,” she added.
Frank Filser, 53, was struggling to reschedule a flight back to Germany to visit his father who has terminal cancer.
But he said he sympathised with the protesters despite the disruption.
“They fight for Hong Kong and that’s their view,” he said.
“Anytime I can go back to Germany, but what about the people who grew up here? This is their home.“
Real estate worker Tibor, a long-term foreign resident of Hong Kong, was waiting at the terminal for a rescheduled flight after his journey on Monday was cancelled.
He said he understood the protests because “it’s really frustrating to live in a society where your government is not really having a dialogue with their own people“.
A wide cross-section of Hong Kong has taken to the streets in recent weeks to show their support for the pro-democracy movement and condemn the police response to protests, including rallies of elderly residents and civil servants.
But the movement has divided parts of the city, with small demonstrations in support of police and the government, and scuffles breaking out between pro-Beijing residents and protesters in some neighbourhoods.
Some passengers at the airport took a less forgiving view of the occupation.
The nationalistic Chinese tabloid the Global Times tweeted footage of one irate Australian passenger who confronted young demonstrators and told them to “go get a job“.
Others told AFP they were angry at having their travel plans frustrated.
“I don’t mind what they [the protesters] do but they made us five hours delayed,” said 50-year-old Wing Au-yeung, who had stopped off in the city to collect his aged mother before travelling to South Korea with his family.
“They can do what they want but it should not affect other people.”