IN a move that could potentially affect travel to popular cities, Hong Kong’s airport will reduce its maximum number of overnight take-offs and landings from 37 to 32 flights per hour.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the move to cut back the number of overnight planes could affect travel to and from popular Asian cities like Bangkok, Tokyo and Singapore, as well as hamper cargo-only flights which could harm Hong Kong’s competitiveness.
Aviation regulators have minimized the number of flights to 160 during the period of 2am and 6.59am, a window where only one runway will be open.
The Civil Aviation Department told the paper that the reduction was being enforced after taking advice from external consultants who recommended in 2008 that 37 planes taking off and landing was too intense, a figure that has stood since the airport opened in 1998.
The department spokeswoman added, “This revision has taken into account the fact that operations are being conducted at night while runway maintenance may be underway. Under those conditions, intensive operations on minimum aircraft spacing are considered not desirable.”
— SCMP News (@SCMP_News) October 30, 2016
Meanwhile, on why the reduction was being implemented almost a decade since the department received expert advice, the former director-general of the Civil Aviation Department, Albert Lam Kwong-yu, told SCMP, “The number of big aircraft is more than what they estimated at the time. The 32 per hour scheduling is not unreasonable. Safety is paramount.”
The new ruling comes as good news to those living near the airport and under flight paths, as the biggest complaint is reported to be aircraft noise during wee hours of the night.
In June, SCMP reported that Hong Kong’s airlines are bidding for the airport’s two runways to be kept open for longer each day to pave the way for more flights.
The report added that if the move is approved, they could “add dozens of new flights within months, slash airfares for Hongkongers, and turn around a tourism slump”.