General Insurance Article - Hong Kong airport protests highlight exposures for insurers

The recent standoff at Hong Kong International Airport between Chinese authorities and protestors has brought into stark relief the potential airport ground accumulation exposures faced by international insurers and reinsurers.

 Proprietary data from Russell Group Limited’s ALPS Visualiser service, which quantifies aerospace industry and portfolio peak exposure, shows that 69 aircraft of value $6.1 billion were scheduled to be on the ground at Hong Kong airport on the 16th August 2019. The annual average for airport ground accumulation at the airport is 68 aircraft of value $6.0 billion.

 Hong Kong is not the only major regional airport hub. The annual average for airport ground accumulation in Taiwan Taoyuan airport on the same day – another airport serving a hub that has traditionally experienced geopolitical tensions with China - is 39 aircraft scheduled to be on the ground of value $3.2 billion. Singapore had 56 aircraft scheduled to be on the ground of value $4.7 billion.

 Hong Kong's airport is an important regional trans-shipment centre, passenger hub and gateway for destinations in Mainland China (with 45 destinations) and the rest of Asia.

 The airport is the world's busiest cargo gateway and one of the world's busiest passenger airports.

 It is also the primary hub for Cathay Pacific, whose chief executive Rupert Hogg quit after the airline became embroiled in the controversy over protests there. Hogg said he was taking responsibility as these had been "challenging weeks" for the airline.

 In 2014, planes in Tripoli airport suffered hundreds of millions of dollars of losses after 13 aircraft on the ground were bombed by local militia and either damaged or destroyed during the battles.

 Russell Group Limited CEO Suki Basi said: "With a build-up of troops, military transports and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, airlines and their insurers will be increasingly mindful of their on the ground assets. Airports around the world are a strategic national asset and therefore often seen as fair game for disruption by protestors and factions seeking to score propaganda points. The risk, however, could be considerable if one side miscalculates."

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