Officials in Hong Kong said 24 airlines have canceled at least 172 passenger and 38 cargo flights between Thursday and Monday at Chek Lap Kok airport because of weak demand. Hong Kong's leading carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., will scrap 78 flights, or 18% of its total schedule, during that time, the Civil Aviation Department said. A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific sought to play down any Y2K concerns, saying the holiday season is always a quiet travel period.
* In Brazil, aviation authorities are discouraging pilots from taking off between 11:45 p.m. Friday and 12:15 a.m. Saturday in case the Y2K computer bug affects air traffic control. The Department of Civil Aviation decided against barring takeoffs and made no recommendation on landings. Brazil has hundreds of flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The department said about 35% of flights have been canceled for lack of passengers, more than the normal New Year's cancellation rate of 25%.
* China Eastern Airlines, a major airline in China, seeking to reassure travelers that it's ready for the Y2K bug, said it is doubling its insurance coverage for passengers on New Year's Eve. The carrier also said that its president, Li Zohngming, will be on board one of its end-of-the-year flights.
* Belgian national railway operator SNCB said it will halt all services, both national and international, between 10 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday, in the interests of safety. "We are ready, but . . . all our systems are interconnected, and it is difficult if not impossible to test things without stopping the traffic," SNCB's Y2K manager, Paul Damas, told a Belgian TV station.
* Iran's state airline, Iran Air, which has said that all of its flight-related computers are Y2K compliant, said Tuesday that it is canceling all domestic and international flights on Friday evening and early Saturday morning as a precaution. Yemen's national carrier, Yemen Airways, said that although it is fully prepared to cope with any Y2K problems, it will nevertheless halt all flights for several hours at the rollover to Saturday "to avoid any emergency," a spokesman said.