GUANGZHOU, May 3 — China’s busiest airport, which handled 40 million passengers last year, has come to a standstill after several workers went down with Covid-19.

Areas around the Baiyun International Airport, as well as nearby residential neighbourhoods where most airport staff and airline workers live, have been placed under a lockdown.

This has affected the daily operations of the airport.

All its restaurants, shops and services have ground to a halt.

Since Monday, almost all domestic flights and many international flights to and from the airport were cancelled due to a lack of manpower as most airport staff and airline ground staff were sent for quarantine or stuck in the lockdown.

Malaysian IT manager Sho Hock Chuan, 41, was supposed to take a Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur on Monday night, but it was cancelled.

Sho, who lives in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, had earlier taken a high speed rail (HSR) train to Hangzhou on Sunday and spent a night there before taking another train to Guangzhou the next morning after his direct flight to the city was cancelled.

The Penang local arrived at the airport only to find that the international flight had also been cancelled.

“I bought a new ticket to Singapore on Tuesday afternoon,” said Sho, who is moving back to Malaysia for good after working in China for 12 years.

Explaining his decision to come home, he said: “I do not know how long this (China’s restriction on border controls) will last. I want to be with my family.”

He has not seen his wife since February 2020 after China closed its borders to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A 30-year-old Chinese passenger, who declined to be named, said she was flying to Singapore to see her boyfriend, whom she has not met since January 2020.

Upon being notified of the cancellation of her direct flight from Yiwu, Zhejiang province, to Guangzhou on Monday, she immediately took a HSR train to Hangzhou on Sunday and flew here the following day.

“My flight is on Tuesday afternoon, but I am worried I might not be able to enter the city due to the pandemic, so I came early,” added the trader.

She said she met her Singaporean beau, 35, when he came on a business trip in 2019.

The Chinese trader has reached Singapore. But Sho is still in Guangzhou due to a hiccups in his vaccination report.

Based on data by Airports Council International, the Guangzhou airport ranked eighth in the list of the world’s busiest airports last year.

The top 10 world’s busiest airports in terms of passenger traffic is dominated by US airports.

Besides Guangzhou, the Chengdu airport in China is ranked ninth.


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