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June, 2011:


Download PDF : Chinese version of second NCD Lancet paper

KMB takes route to $108m buys

Hong Kong Standard – 30 June 2011

Kowloon Motor Bus will spend HK$108 million on 60 single-deck vehicles to be used on less popular routes.

Kowloon Motor Bus will spend HK$108 million on 60 single-deck vehicles to be used on less popular routes.

The company will also replace 36 single-deckers more than 15 years old.

KMB head of depots Ho Chi-man said yesterday the number of less popular routes has increased, especially in the New Territories, owing to population movements.

KMB has also proposed replacing double-deckers with single-deck buses on 20 routes where demand has fallen.

If approved, the new services will begin early next year.

Ho said the  new single-deck buses are environmentally friendly, emitting 94 percent less particulates and 79 percent less nitrogen oxide than existing vehicles, several of which have been in use since 1994.

“In addition, most of the older buses have steps at the entrance, which makes it difficult for the elderly and those in wheelchairs,” he said.

The new buses have lower floors and the ramp at the entrance may be lowered by 25 centimeters to allow wheelchairs.


Airport has real growth potential

I refer to Paul Zimmerman’s article (“Airport plan can’t take off without reliable growth forecast and cost-benefit analysis”, June 18).

The air traffic forecast made for Hong Kong International Airport’s Master Plan 2030 by Iata Consulting is based on gross domestic product, the most reliable and proven indicator known to the industry. Over the past 40 years, global air traffic has demonstrated a strong correlation to global economic growth as measured by GDP. Hong Kong has an even stronger correlation because of its externally oriented economy.

Air traffic grows because of economic, not population, growth. As economies grow, trade and business activities increase, boosting the need for air travel. Airbus projects emerging travel markets will comprise 68 per cent of global air travel by 2029, up from 55 per cent in 2010.

It is critical to note the important contribution of transfer (or connecting) and transshipment traffic alongside origin-destination traffic. Iata Consulting’s air traffic forecast for Hong Kong airport employed a robust, GDP-based linear regression model that was developed after extensive testing of variables using simple, multiple linear and log regression models, and a review of market trends. In 2010, around one third of the airport’s passenger traffic was connecting, while approximately 20 per cent of cargo traffic was transshipment. This traffic mix is projected to be similar in 2030.

Connecting traffic — illustrative of air hub status – brings as much value to Hong Kong as origin-destination traffic because it helps preserve and enhance the airport’s extensive network, connectivity and frequency. Each flight typically carries both origin-destination and transfer/ connecting traffic. In addition, transfer traffic helps airlines operate new routes and build higher frequencies, which in turn helps the hub airport stay competitive with a bigger network and more flights. Travellers then benefit from more choice, destinations and frequency, and even lower fares because of it.

Transshipment also contributes greatly to Hong Kong’s economy, one of the most trade-dependent in the world. Hong Kong airport is the dominant international cargo gateway for South China, and Mr Zimmerman is correct that we handle around 90 per cent of the greater Pearl River Delta’s international cargo throughput. This supports Hong Kong’s leading regional role in trade and logistics, an industry that contributed 26 per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP and employed more than 800,000 people in 2008. It would be hard to imagine the impact on Hong Kong people’s livelihoods if we turned away future cargo and trade activities currently supported by the airport.

A comparison of Hong Kong’s regional market and those of other major cities further demonstrates Hong Kong airport’s tremendous potential. London’s five airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City) served nearly 140 million passengers in 2008, while New York’s JFK, LaGuardia and Newark served more than 100 million. Both cities have populations of about eight million. Hong Kong, a city of seven million, located on the doorstep of China, served more than 50 million passengers via its airport alone in 2010, making the enormous growth potential of Hong Kong airport even clearer.

Julia Yan, general manager, strategic planning and development, Hong Kong Airport Authority

HK$4b record profit for Airport Authority

South China Morning Post – 30 June 2011

Bumpy ride ahead for Chek Lap kok operator despite strong rebound in passenger and cargo throughput

Hong Kong airport made a record profit of more than HK$4 billion last year following a strong rebound in passenger and cargo throughput, but expansion plans could make for a bumpy ride in the years ahead.

Even without building a third runway – which is still in the planning phase – depreciation and amortisation of the HK$9.3 billion midfield expansion programme due to be completed by 2015 could drag the Airport Authority into the red.

“If you only look at the [financial] statement, there will be fluctuations, or even losses,” said William Lo Chi-chung, the authority’s executive director for finance. “However, we have a very strong cash flow. If we maintain that, we shouldn’t have problems handling any future projects.”

It will have to deal with a funding shortfall of HK$102 billion if the third runway goes ahead, but chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung said it had no plans yet to raise landing and parking charges for airlines.

Even though the authority projects an annual increase of 3 per cent in airport charges until 2030 in its estimated future cash flow, the airport has not raised the landing and parking fees for airlines in 13 years. Fees, in fact, were cut by 15 per cent during the economic downturn of 2000, with another temporary reduction in 2009 following the credit crisis, which has now been reinstated.

Record passenger and cargo throughput last year plus strong growth in rents, retail licences and advertising revenues pushed the airport’s revenue up by 17.4 per cent to HK$10.58 billion. Helped by good control over operating expenses, net profit jumped 41.9 per cent to HK$4.04 billion.

The operating margin also rose to 66.3 per cent in the 12 months to March from 62.3 per cent a year ago – the highest among utilities investments, while return on equity reached double digits for the first time, at 11.1 per cent.

Hui said if passenger throughput continued to grow at an annual clip of 3.2 per cent, Hong Kong might overtake Heathrow as the airport handling the most international passengers by 2015.

Despite the record profit, the government will only receive HK$3.1 billion in ordinary dividends, less than the HK$4.5 billion from an ordinary and a special dividend in 2009. There is no special dividend this year.

While Japan’s natural disasters and political unrest in the Middle East pushed cargo throughput down by 1.2 per cent in the first five months of this year, passenger and aircraft movements saw year-on-year growth of 5.4 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. Despite a high base, Hui said, Hong Kong airport should end the year with moderate growth.

Simple monitoring of ultrafine particles

Download PDF : Aerasense presentation Utrafine monitoring

Shenzhen Airport to Launch Second Runway tomorrow – Shenzhen Post

Shenzhen Airport to Launch Second Runway tomorrow

on June 29, 2011 by jasmineyu

Shenzhen Airport opened a new cargo shipping air route for Shenzhen, Wuhan and Zhengzhou yesterday. The air route will be flown by the B737-300 plane, which will undertake five flights per week with payload capacity of 14 tons each. As of now, Shenzhen Airport has totally open 32 air routes for all-cargo service at home and abroad.

The expansion project of the flying area of Shenzhen Airport now has been approved by China Civil Aviation Bureau through inspection and acceptance test. The second runway of Shenzhen Airport will be formally launched on June 30, 2011, which indicate Shenzhen Airport will enter into a new age of operation with two runways.

As one of the major transportation facility projects in Shenzhen, the flying area expansion work of Shenzhen Airport was designed to construct the second runway, 3800 meters long and 60 meter wide, as well as its supporting facilities at the west of the existing runway. Started in 2002 for preparation work, the project was approved by the State Development and Reform Commission in June 2006 and was formally started on November 28, 2009 on the base of completing prophase land formation work. On May 11, 2011, the project finally passed the completion acceptance test.

The second runway will effectively relieve the current situation that the airport’s capacity is saturated and greatly improve the airport’s aviation transportation capacity, providing better infrastructure conditions for the successful holding of the Universiade and enabling high quality transportation services for Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta regions.

HK chamber urges Tsang to think big on air pollution

South China Morning Post – 28 June 2011

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen urging him to take action on roadside pollution. “What Hong Kong people have been yearning for … is to see the return of the blue sky, so that we might wrestle back the place we used to know from the smog’s stranglehold,” the HKGC says in the letter, which is signed by its chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk.

The letter calls for action on a number of fronts and urges Tsang “to think big,” in his final year as chief executive.

It takes on board, without mentioning them, the arguments that have been pushed by the Civic Exchange and Clean Air Network. The letter says a regional solution is required to deal with the overall air pollution. “But for residents going about their daily lives and people working in much of the urban areas,it is roadside pollution that brings tears to our eyes.” It urges the swift replacement of old buses and trucks still on the road. The chamber says that when it consults its members about what they would want if they had one wish, “The resounding response is clean air.”

The chamber says there is an overwhelming desire within the community for faster progress, noting that the two-year trial scheme involving six hybrid buses, “falls far short of the sort of progress that the vast majority of our community has been hoping to see”. In a plea that is verging on the passionate, the chamber says, “Chief executive, you must lean on the clean air issue and display your leadership in hastening the delivery of a solution,” since it is driving away business, “and harms the health of those who stay”.

Turning to other matters, the chamber urges the chief executive to take steps to ease social tensions by giving people the wherewithal to compete in Hong Kong’s knowledge society through training and education. It asks for greater sensitivity from the government in its handling of the minimum wage, lower taxes for small and medium-sized businesses, and a general reduction in profits tax. The chamber wants closer discussions over the crafting of the competition law to ward of unintended consequences of its implementation. It also criticises the government’s action on the provision of international education places, which it says smacks of “short-termism”. Providing more places, the chamber says, is not just an issue for expatriates; it is also desired by local middle-class families for their children.

So come on Donald. You’ve got one more year to think big. Don’t waste it. You can be the man that finally does something meaningful to clean Hong Kong’s awful roadside pollution, which is increasingly being recognised as a serious threat to public health.

Blue skies don’t mean clean air

SCMP letters

Chris Stubbs is living in a dream if he believes that seeing blue skies in Hong Kong, albeit very occasionally, means we are breathing clean air (“Blue-sky thinking on pollution”, June 23).

Just because he is unable to see the grey-yellow smog hugging our hills due to southerly sea breezes does not prove, as he suggests, that most of our pollution comes from the mainland.

The emissions from Hong Kong’s power stations, which continue to burn highly sulphurous coal, are now being blown north into the mainland, giving, some would argue, mainlanders a right to complain about pollution from Hong Kong.

Mr Stubbs would surely be disillusioned if he studied the Air Pollution Index (API) reports issued hourly by the Environmental Protection Department. He could see that roadside air pollution readings in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok have remained stubbornly at dangerously toxic levels.

The real API readings should in fact be worse, and it is only because the department is dragging its feet in introducing modern standards that some people feel it is safe to breathe in Hong Kong.

It isn’t just what you can see.

Peter Crush, Sha Tin

New anti-fraud strategy aims to name and shame

EUROPOLITICS / European Commission


New anti-fraud strategy aims to name and shame

By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 24 June 2011

The European Commission adopted, on 24 June, a new anti-fraud strategy that will enable the naming and shaming of fraudsters of EU funds. The overall aim is to facilitate prevention and detection and to improve the conditions for investigations of fraud and also achieve adequate reparation and deterrence with proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. The measures proposed – updating the 2000 strategy, which has been rendered somewhat obsolete due to the enlargement, amongst other factors – are expected to enter into force between now and the end of 2014.

New IT tools, such as a technical platform for secure exchange of data between customs and other relevant national authorities (the Mutual Assistance Broker), will be put to use to improve in a systematic way the Commission’s audit and control capacities. The EU executive also commits to intensify communication over penalties sanctioning fraudsters or beneficiaries of misused EU funds, ie naming and shaming that has been requested by Parliament.

The role of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) will be reinforced by enhancing the expertise, assistance and guidance it already provides to Commission services. Specific sectoral strategies will be set up, covering expenditure, such as Structural Funds or the European Fisheries Fund.

On the same day, the Commission unveiled a regional action plan to fight against smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol – the cause of a €10 billion shortfall in customs and tax revenues for the EU and member states – along the Eastern borders. It proposes targeted actions ranging from the strengthening of the capacities on both sides of the border, the setting up of trained mobile units and new equipment (automated recognition tools, scanners, night vision equipment, etc) to the need to review the way customs penalties currently apply throughout the EU and to enhance international cooperation, in particular with the Union’s Eastern neighbours.

Plan for third runway should include a study of residents’ health impact

South China Morning Post – 24 June 2011

Edwin Lau urges airport officials to ensure that residents’ well-being will not be further damaged

The Airport Authority says that preliminary information about the potential environmental and health impact of its proposal for a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport will be made available when the proposed expansion gets the nod. Only then will a detailed environmental impact assessment on air pollution, noise and marine habitat be conducted.

If the authority were sincere about its green concerns, it would make available immediately the data jointly requested by nine environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth (HK). This would help the community make an unbiased judgment. Without this vital information, the three-month consultation will merely be a public relations exercise.

The authority has conducted preliminary assessments on nine aspects including economic and environmental issues, but two important ones are missing – a health impact assessment and climate change assessment.

A 2005 survey of Tung Chung residents conducted by Friends of the Earth found that 44 per cent of respondents said family members had suffered respiratory illnesses. According to Environmental Protection Department data, Tung Chung’s air quality is one of the worst in Hong Kong.

Yet, more pollution is likely to be generated by the additional air and road traffic resulting from the runway expansion, not forgetting the extra pollution emitted by the thousands of trucks that will be using the bridge to Zhuhai and Macau every day.

By 2020, we estimate that there will be somewhere between  5 million and 7 million vehicle journeys added to Tung Chung in a year. That means there could be up to 20,000 heavy diesel vehicle journeys through north Lantau every day, more than six times the vehicle journeys for the whole of Lantau in 2004.

This could bring even more health risks for people living in Tung Chung and the surrounding area. The Airport Authority should study this and share its findings as soon as possible.

The authority also needs to unveil its proposals to mitigate the additional greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the runway expansion, to act in line with government policies.

With expansion plans on such a grand scale, it is irresponsible for the Airport Authority not to provide the public with a preliminary health impact assessment and proposed mitigation measures to ensure, at the very least, that the health of residents living near the airport will not be further damaged.

Reviewing a project’s environmental impact does not mean stopping any development; we should make sure it will be a genuinely sustainable development project.

Edwin Lau Che-feng is director of Friends of the Earth (HK)