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March 6th, 2016:

Shenzhen and Macau flight paths could clash if Hong Kong gets third runway, study finds

Roy Tam Hoi-pong of Green Sense points out the findings of the joint airspace study. Photo: Nora Tam

Roy Tam Hoi-pong of Green Sense points out the findings of the joint airspace study. Photo: Nora Tam

Ernest Kao

Environmental group Green Sense also says split management of airspace would breach principle of ‘one country, two systems’

Nearly 43 per cent of flights landing at Shenzhen airport and over 90 per cent of departures from Macau could be affected by regional air space issues caused by Hong Kong’s planned third runway system, a study has found.

Using data from FlightAware and Flightradar24, environmental group Green Sense and the Airport Development Concern Network looked at more than 16,000 flight movements out of a total of 24,000 arriving and departing from Shenzhen’s Bao An Airport in January.

They also looked at 1,628 departures from Macau, which comprised about half of its total flight movements.

At least 5,200 arrivals and 304 departures to and from Shenzhen were at risk of crossing paths with three Hong Kong flight paths.

These included a northwest departure route from the airport’s current north runway and two paths that will be used by flights engaging in “missed approaches”, aborted landings that require circling into mainland airspace and re-entering Hong Kong.

In the case of Macau, nearly all of the analysed flights departing from its airport would potentially clash with departures from Hong Kong’s north runway.

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong, believed unresolved problems would lead to Hong Kong having to give up some airspace to the mainland, leading to a breach of the “one country, two systems” principle and a repeat of the co-location controversy over the high-speed rail link to Guangzhou.

Questions of constitutionality were raised when it was revealed mainland immigration officers would be allowed to operate at the link’s West Kowloon terminus.

In a Town Planning Board meeting this year, the Civil Aviation Department suggested the airspace could divided into two, with Hong Kong managing the lower portion into the mainland and the mainland managing the upper part. But Tam said this would breach Article 130 of the Basic Law.

“If we still believe in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, then Hong Kong must manage its own airspace,” he said, demanding the project be shelved.

Article 130 stipulates that the territory should be responsible on its own for matters of routine business and technical management of civil aviation.

Michael Mo, of the concern network, said the difference in mainland and Hong Kong aviation standards and measurements could also pose many issues of flight safety.

A Civil Aviation Department spokesman said an air traffic management plan would be implemented in the region with “unified” planning and standards as the ultimate goal. The plan would comply with the Basic Law and international civil aviation rules, he added.

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