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Third Runway

Green Groups Decline Airport invitation to join Professional Liaison Group

For Immediate Release

(28 October 2015, Hong Kong) — Eleven leading green groups have declined the Hong Kong Airport Authority (AA)’s invitation to join the Professional Liaison Group (PLG) for the Three-Runway System Project.

The setting up of a PLG is a specific condition (2.1) under the Environmental Permit (AEP-489/2014) issued by the Environmental Protection Department under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance: “ To enhance transparency and communication with the public.”

Following several months of communication with the Airport, green groups decided that “a more effective and efficient platform for dialogue, and a greater commitment from the Airport Authority and Government on a truly green airport” is required.

In a letter to the Airport Authority, and copied to the Director of Environmental Protection, green groups set out the following reasons for declining the invitation:

1. Deep concerns among the groups over the impacts of the three-runway project;
2. The limited mitigation measures set out under the Environmental Permit;
3. The narrow scope of the Terms of Reference for the Professional Liaison Group;
4. The absence of an independent due process for the proposed Professional Liaison Group.

Green groups noted that the PLG was limited to a technical oversight of the environmental consultant hired to monitor the contractors meeting the various technical conditions set out in the Environmental Permit. The PLG would be controlled by the Airport which act both as Chair and as Secretary. However, no resources were set aside for the Members to conduct their work independently. It was determined that participation would seriously undermine the “watch dog” and “environmental expert” roles of green groups.

The green groups who declined the invitation include Clean Air Network, Clear The Air, The Conservancy Association, Designing Hong Kong, Friends of the Earth (HK), Green Lantau Association, Green Sense, Greeners Action, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and Living Islands Movement.

The specific condition (2.1) under the Environmental Permit (AEP-489/2014) requires the Airport: “ To enhance transparency and communication with the public, the Permit Holder shall, no later than 3 months before the commencement of construction of the Project, set up Community and Professional Liaison Groups respectively comprising members of affected parties including local residents and relevant professional/experts to facilitate communications, enquiries and complaints handling on all environmental issues related to the Project. The Permit Holder shall take a proactive approach to disseminate information to the groups, promote community cooperation and participation and implement suitable local environmental enhancement works. All relevant information of the Project including the detailed design, the progress of construction and operation and environmental monitoring and audit results shall be provided to the groups. The Permit Holder shall inform the Director in writing the membership and terms of reference of the two groups. The Permit Holder shall make the minutes of the groups’ meetings and all papers and documents available to the public through a website.”


十一個環保團體已去信香港機場管理局,拒絕加入其就香港國際機場第三條跑道計劃設立的「三跑專業聯絡小組」(Professional Liaison Group , PLG)。






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Hong Kong authorities must reveal airspace plan before building third runway at airport

Albert Cheng says Hongkongers are right to demand some proof of a regional deal on air traffic management before a costly third runway is added to Chek Lap Kok

Officials are asking Hongkongers to take a blind leap in supporting the new runway at Chek Lap Kok. They say by the time the facility is operational in about a decade, Hong Kong will have adequate access to nearby airspace to make the HK$141.5 billion investment worthwhile.

The aviation authorities of Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China started discussing in 2004 how to maximise their respective airspace to cope with the rapid growth of commercial flights in the region. Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department joined with the Civil Aviation Administration of China and Civil Aviation Authority of Macau to form a working group to manage the regional air traffic, keeping in mind future expansion of the five airports in Shenzhen, Macau, Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Their meetings from 2004 to 2007 culminated in a plan for the Pearl River Delta region.

The administration is, to put it mildly, ham-fisted in planning and overseeing large-scale engineering projects

Since then, the tripartite committee has been as transparent as a black hole. Legislators, industry experts and the news media have repeatedly asked the government to produce documents to assure the public the other two parties have indeed agreed to take concrete steps to help meet Hong Kong’s need for more airspace.

So far, officials can only regurgitate what they managed to get out of the working group eight years ago, with not a word about what the three sides have done or will do for Hong Kong’s third runway. The runway alone, without the reorganisation of the surrounding airspace, will not lead to any substantial increase in airport capacity. The plan is apparently little more than a statement of intent.

The last tripartite meeting was held in 2012. I dare say, to date, no substantive advancement has been made. The best that Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and other officials can do is hide behind the so-called plan, the exact content of which has never been disclosed.

One can presume there is no agreement to reorganise Hong Kong’s surrounding airspace to accommodate additional flights arising from the third runway. Without this, the new facility is doomed to be a white elephant.

Among the experts who have already spoken against the scheme are two former directors of aviation, Peter Lok Kung-nam and Albert Lam Kwong-yu, and former director of the Hong Kong Observatory Lam Chiu-ying. They, too, have also demanded to see proof of any regional cooperation on airspace. One wonders how many bureaucrats will step forward once they are free to speak their minds.

Although the Executive Council has already rubber-stamped the project, public opposition has been snowballing. At least two judicial reviews have been filed to block the construction of the runway.

The administration is, to put it mildly, ham-fisted in planning and overseeing large-scale engineering projects. The track record of Cheung and his colleagues hardly inspires public confidence in the third runway proposition. The troublesome express rail link is also in his portfolio. The scheme has a budget overrun of over HK$20 billion, while its completion date has been repeatedly delayed.

Another major infrastructure project, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, is also in troubled waters . Various parts of the reclamation for the HK$7 billion artificial island that would house the immigration facilities have shifted “up to six or seven metres”, according to reports. The Highways Department admitted the works could not be completed as scheduled by the end of next year. It could not say how long the delay would be.

Given such bitter experiences, I would not be surprised to see the final bill for the third runway exceeding HK$200 billion. The Airport Authority is now promoting its plan to impose a levy on travellers to help fund the project. It has even worked out details on how to make business-class passengers pay more.

This is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. The new runway is heading for anything but a soft landing.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.

Ten Fallacies of The Three-Runway System

Mr. Wilson Fung Wing-yip from the Hong Kong Airport Authority (AAHK), several others and I spoke on May 23 at the “Beyond the Three-Runway System” forum. Mr. Fung is one of the ex-Administrative Officers whom I admire the most. He is eloquent and sharp-witted. He knows his stuff. However, he is also the will-o’-the-wisp that lures his audience into the Trap of Logical Fallacy.

“The total passenger throughput of the major airports atop the Pearl River Delta estuary will reach 300 million by 2030.”

I have always been in full support of expanding the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) in sync with the socio-economic growth of the city. Where I disagree is with the idea that the “Three-Runway System” (the 3RS) is the best option. When Mr. Fung became Executive Director (Corporate Development) of the AAHK back in 2011, his most important mission was to hard-sell the 3RS proposal drawn up by his predecessors. The almighty AAHK, despite having the experience of formulating three HKIA Master Plans, opted for the 3RS, the least efficient and cost effective of the plans. This might be due to the fact that the 3RS could be implemented within the shortest time frame. This is the same logic that animated the initial introduction of the Chek Lap Kok Replacement Airport project back in 1989.

Interests, vested and vocal

Airlines, logistic companies, and other air transport-related industries and unions (except the flight attendants unions) would support whatever expansion project for the airport was proposed as they are not the ones to foot the bill. In general, the business sector, construction sector, professional consulting sector, subcontractors and suppliers also backed the proposal in the hope of getting a share of the financial benefits the 3RS might bring.

Those antagonists are seen by some as busybodies who challenge the Government’s authority for the sake of doing so or as radical environmentalists who push their ideals at the cost of hindering social development. Many also think that the issue is too complicated for them to comment on. Worse still, there is an obvious lack of thorough analysis by political parties and lawmakers. In these people’s minds, the 3RS seems unalterable, a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition. Under such circumstances, the AAHK is close to claiming victory in what should have been a scientific and rational skirmish of policymaking.

10 Ways to fall

“Dichotomic language and hard-selling should come to an end.”

Fallacy #1: The planning process is well justified.

First, since the Chek Lap Kok Replacement Airport started operation in 1998, the AAHK formulates an HKIA Master Plan looking 20 years ahead. Three master plans so far are updated every five years with regular review. This practice seems systematic and reliable. Truth be told, however, this is exactly what undermines the AAHK’s strategic planning and ability to grasp the best timing to implement appropriate development components in steps with demand.

The five year review builds on past reports, but the original sin of Chek Lap Kok has never been addressed, nor corrected. In the beginning, the AAHK failed to address the geographical limitations of Chek Lap Kok before the airport was built. Constrained by the mountainous terrain of Lantau Island, the two existing runways cannot operate independently from each other due to wind shear and obstacles to certain approaches. Additionally, HKIA’s airspace overlaps with some other airports in the Pearl River Delta region, which further restrains runway operation.

Second, previous master plans have never looked farther than 20 years ahead. The AAHK claims that long-term forecasts lack credibility because nobody can accurately predict what is going to happen in the future. However, the golden rule when it comes to planning strategic transport infrastructure is ‘long-term vision, one-off planning, incremental implementation, and constant review’. In other words, we should first set out a general framework, and then implement it step by step according to the needs for air transport and economic development each time. Frankly, the AAHK should come up with a planning framework that is expandable, sustainable, technically feasible and financially attainable. It might even articulate a grand proposal that is expected to support as many as four to six runways, in which lands should be reserved for future expansion, and related infrastructure planned beforehand.

Third, when formulating the five-year plans, the AAHK did not carry out any interim review examining the discrepancy between previous assumptions and the actual demand situations. Had the AAHK had done that earlier; it would not have been caught in this awkward situation. It was not until 2015 that the AAHK “suddenly” realised the actual demand in 2016 would exceed the airport’s capacity, while expansion projects remained stagnant.

Fourth, other viable proposals, such as construction of a second airport or collaboration with airports in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, were never considered seriously by the AAHK. The Executive Council never got to consider other proposals except the one and only one recommended by the AAHK.

Fifth, the AAHK did not provide an Air Traffic Impact Assessment (ATIA) report when it presented the 3RS to the Town Planning Board (TPB). The TIA is an indispensable technical document that is required whenever a development proposal is submitted to the TPB for approval. According to the AAHK’s estimation, the total passenger throughput of the major airports atop the Pearl River Delta estuary will reach 300 million by 2030. One could imagine how overcrowded our airspace will be by that time.

In the absence of an ATIA, AAHK failed to provide a Safety Risk Assessment (SRA), in accordance to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 19, on the worst scenario – during the busiest hours while anticipating bad weather conditions coupled with missed approaches and aircrafts’ mechanical failures, etc. Real Time Simulation (not only Fast Time Simulation) of aircraft movement patterns under these scenarios considering the flight paths, escape avenues and queuing loops, etc. will demonstrate if the assumed design capacity of the 3RS could be achievable or otherwise. This uncertainty will cast doubts on the operation-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the 3RS. Such planning and decision process and procedure are likely to be subject to challenge and judicial review when the TPB gazetted the Chek Lap Kok rezoning plan on May 8.

“Once the white elephant project has taken off, there is little LegCo monitoring can do.”

Fallacy #2: The Three-Runway System has wide support from the public

The AAHK consistently claims the 3RS has gone through public consultation and is widely supported by the public. It is true the AAHK commissioned a survey conducted by the HKU Social Science Research Centre from June to September 2011, in which 24,000 respondent questionnaires were collected. According to the poll results, 80% of respondents agreed that the plan for airport expansion should be finalised as soon as possible. However, respondents were only presented with two pre-selected options: to stick with two runways, or to build the 3RS. Two other options, ‘dual airport system’ and ‘Cross-Pearl River Delta collaboration’ simply went unmentioned. How can this survey be credible?

Fallacy #3: A mutually-beneficial air traffic management system can be achieved with the support of the Central Government

As mentioned, when the total passenger throughput of the five airports in the Pearl River Delta region amounts to 300 million, airspace constraints and risk management concerns mean all airports in the region might not be able to provide adequate aircraft handling capacity for the demand.

The interests of different airports might be balanced by technical and management measures; but if conflict does occur, we cannot be sure of the Central Government’s attitude. It might be supportive of Hong Kong today, but it is uncertain whether it will remain the same tomorrow. Unlike border checkpoints, which are managed solely by Customs, airspace is under the portfolio of the PRC State Council, where the military has a stake. The Central government welcomes Chinese cities to develop their own airport facilities according to their respective needs and advantages. The key question is, however, how is the Central government going to handle economic conflicts among cities? Overshadowed by distrust between China and Hong Kong, ‘domestic diplomacy’ might not be the once-and-for-all solution to the conflict. Why don’t we build a second airport to the south of Lamma Island? Far away from the delta, embracing the South China Sea, where our planes can fly freely. Being further away from the PRD estuary, there will be ample space for Hong Kong’s aircrafts to climb up gently before entering the prescribed altitudes within the mainland boundary. Overlapping airspace is definitely avoidable.

Fallacy #4: Airspace limitations will not affect the capacity of the 3RS

This argument is founded on unsound presuppositions about the aircraft handling capacity of a runway system is determined solely by the mode of operation, be it independent operation, semi-independent operation, take-off only, or landing only. It is oblivious of other possible situations, such as bad weather, engine failure, missed approaches, and more. More importantly, airspace limitations would make the 3RS prone to delays and cancellations under Chinese air traffic control. In that case, it would not be able to realise its full capacity.

“80% of respondents agreed that the plan for airport expansion should be finalised as soon as possible.”

Fallacy #5: Regrouping of air routes is impossible under current air services agreements

China-Hong Kong integration is the most logical result of geoeconomics. That said, co-opetition between Pearl River Delta region and Hong Kong might carry on regardless. It was proposed that the Shenzhen International Airport (SZIA) would open more domestic routes to second-, third- or even fourth-tier mainland cities, which actually makes a great deal of sense.

Currently, Cathay Pacific (wholly owning Dragonair) and the China Air are in a state of mutual shareholding. Having the SIA take over the direct flights to second- and third-tier mainland cities is certainly a viable option.

Unfortunately, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Railway connecting HKIA-Hung Shui Kiu-Qianhai-SIA might be stalled due to high costs and low returns. However, planners should consider how we might enhance other modes of transport between HKIA and SIA by land and by sea.

Fallacy #6: Diverting passenger throughput whose destinations are second- and third-tier mainland cities to SZIA is meaningless since they only make up as little as 1.6% of HKIA’s total passenger throughput

This is true for the time being. But in the long-term, by enhancing the connecting transportation between HKIA and SZIA, the role of HKIA as a global air travel hub would be reinforced. For example, if one travels from Paris to a third-tier Chinese city like Jingdezhen, he might first arrive at HKIA, and then transfer to SZIA for Jingdezhen. More travellers would actually consider Hong Kong as the endpoint of their journey. Hong Kong would appear more appealing as a tourism destination. Moreover, under smaller traffic pressure, Hong Kong would be able to open new air routes to emerging markets and cities along ‘One Belt One Road’.

Fallacy #7: Dual airport systems generally fail

Some dual airport systems do fail, but that does not necessarily suggest that all dual airport systems are bound to fail. It depends on the site selection, connecting transport infrastructure to the central business district (CBD), and complementary services and facilities. Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport and Pudong International Airport are relatively successful examples of dual airport systems.

Fallacy #8: The price for environmental conservation is economic development, which is a cost too high for our society.

The proposed site of the 3RS is also the habitat of Chinese white dolphins and a fishing area. In the process of building the 3RS, the government will have to maintain the dolphins’ habitat and compensate fisheries. These huge costs are not all included in the estimated costs of the 3RS. If there are other alternatives, such as building a second airport, the government would be free from these extra perpetual financial burdens.

Fallacy #9: The AAHK will be able to cover the costs of the 3RS on its own

The AAHK is in a healthy financial state right now, generating a cumulative profit of HK$35 billion for the government up to date. However, if it is to pay over HK$200 billion (probably due to inflation and cost overrun) for the 3RS , that might require the borrowing of HK$100 billion instead of the currently planned HK$50 billion, it would be a rather great impact on the AAHK’s finances. Following the high construction costs, the maintenance and service costs might undermine HKIA’s competitiveness as well. At the end, the deficit would have to be borne by the AAHK’s sole shareholder–the Hong Kong government.

Fallacy #10: Setting up monitoring committees in the LegCo and Airport Consultative Committee would be enough for holding the project accountable

This would only apply if the proposal pre-selected by the AAHK would eventually get through the statutory planning procedure, thus forcing Hongkongers to ‘pocket’ the 3RS for the time being. Once the white elephant project has taken off, there is little LegCo monitoring can do.

I must reiterate that I support the AAHK’s continual investment in expanding and enhancing the airport facilities, but that must come with operation- and cost-effectiveness, acceptable environmental impact, and planning sustainability. I call for the government to re-evaluate its plans to expand the airport, and compare different options rationally, scientifically, and objectively. There should be public discourse regarding the different aspects of the project, including the economics, the social impact, sustainability, and China-Hong Kong integration. The High Court’s decision on May 20 to approve two judicial reviews regarding the environmental impact assessment certainly has sound reasons.

Where there is danger, where there is opportunity and this is the crucial hour. It was predicted that the judicial reviews might take as long as four years, and that would offer sufficient time for redesign and re-planning. Once a consensus is reached, opposition voices would naturally disappear, and the project could be carried out more smoothly.

In response to Transport and Housing Bureau’s wishful thinking – “t is not ‘why and whether’, but ‘when and how’”. I believe plans for expanding the airport should return to the question of ‘what and where’.

Truth arises from discourse. Dichotomic language and hard-selling should come to an end. If the Three-Runway System still emerges to be the best option after completing technical assessments and having considered all other viable options, the government should provide adequate explanations and facts to convince the public.

Writ filed for review over third runway

June 16, 2015


A Tung Chung advocate yesterday applied for judicial review over the construction of the third airport runway.

Tung Chung Future’s community development officer, Wong Chun-yeung, 21, filed the writ to the High Court.

Wong said the Executive Council approval of the Airport Authority’s three- runway system in March is unconstitutional.

Departing passengers will be charged HK$180 from next year and airlines 15 percent more to help fund the third runway, whose budget has ballooned to HK$141.5 billion.

The third runway may be completed by 2023 if construction begins next year.

Green Sense founder Roy Tam Hoi- pong, who accompanied Wong in filing the writ, said afterwards that there were three grounds behind the judicial review.

The first was about the distinction between Hong Kong and mainland airspace, as the third runway would share airspace with Shenzhen and violate Article 130 of Basic Law, which states Hong Kong “shall be responsible on its own for matters of routine business and technical management of civil aviation.”

The second and third rationales concern contraventions of Article 64 of the Basic Law, which states that taxation and public expenditure should be approved by the Legislative Council.

HC to hear judicial review bid over new runway

The High Court has accepted an application for judicial review over the government’s plan to build a third runway at the airport.

The application was jointly submitted by a member of the Land Justice League and a Tung Chung resident.

They are seeking to overturn a decision by the Environmental Protection Department to approve an environmental impact assessment report and issue a permit for the expansion project in November last year.

The Executive Council gave the final go-ahead for the HK$140 billion project in March.

Cost of work on Terminal 2 for third runway at Hong Kong airport ‘may rise 47 per cent’

Airport work will face rising construction costs and legal issues over airspace, opponents warn

The cost of expanding Terminal 2 at Chek Lap Kok airport to support the proposed third runway could soar to HK$14 billion by the time work begins in 2019 – 47 per cent up on the original prediction, a veteran engineer says.

The Airport Authority plans to shut down the terminal, which opened in 2007, for construction work to improve arrival and transit facilities. The building currently houses 56 passenger check-in counters, restaurants and shops, but no arrival hall.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, a former president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said his estimation was based on construction costs rising 5 to 6 per cent per year until 2019. The original prediction by the authority was HK$9.5 billion in 2010 prices.

The expansion work will involve extensive excavation and will see the terminal out of service until 2023.

Wong’s estimate came as opponents of a third runway warned yesterday the runway project could run into the same troubles as the new high-speed rail link to Guangzhou, which has been dogged by legal and constitutional issues involved in arranging immigration checks.

Opponents say the capacity of a third runway would be affected significantly by the ability of local authorities to coordinate airspace with mainland authorities.

“The problems will be similar to those seen with the planned joint immigration checkpoint at West Kowloon for the high-speed rail terminus,” said Roy Tam Hoi-pong, from Green Sense, and environmental group. “We don’t want to see Beijing interpreting the Basic Law to decide who should control the airspace.”

Hong Kong is responsible for providing air traffic services within its flight information region, according to Article 130 of the Basic Law.

Engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak, from think tank Professional Commons, said if the third runway project ran into trouble, the problems would be even worse than those of the over-budget and delayed rail link.

He said construction projects across the Pearl River Delta requiring reclamation could jack up sand prices significantly, adding further uncertainty to the cost of land formation for the airport.

Wong believed the layout of the terminal building would be completely changed and that “only steel beams would be left” after the installation of additional facilities.

However, a spokesman for the authority would not say how far the basic structure of the building would be altered.

“The [authority] has analysed the structural limits and potential impact on the existing building, including the related modifications and addition works,” he said.

Source URL (modified on May 13th 2015, 3:21am):

T2 to `close for four years’

Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 2 which has been in operation for 13 years will be completely shut down for four years from 2019 as part of expansion work in preparation for the third runway.


Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 2 which has been in operation for 13 years will be completely shut down for four years from 2019 as part of expansion work in preparation for the third runway.

The HK$2.8 billion Terminal 2 started operation in February 2002, serving 27 airlines.

An Airport Authority spokesman told Sing Tao Daily, sister paper of The Standard, that Terminal 2 is 90 percent full, with at least 80 shops and 20 restaurants. “It is nearly completely rented out.”

But a source close to the authority said it will be “totally closed for expansion work for four years to carry out improvement work” if construction for the third runway starts as planned next year.

The expansion will include restructuring the main building of Terminal 2, and constructing two additional annex buildings.

According to the third runway system design announced earlier, Terminal 2 will be modified and expanded for providing a full-service processing terminal and construction of an associated road network.

The services will include handling arrivals, departures and transfers. And the two new annex buildings will be reserved for coach staging, car parking, loading and unloading bays, and a limousine lounge.

He said extra facilities will be put into services in Terminal 1, such as airline check-in counters and temporary coach stations for easing the problems brought by the expansion work.

The spokesman said the authority expects the new Terminal 2 to start operation in 2023.

The current Terminal 2 only handles departures but not arrivals and also lacks facilities for baggage handling.

It also does not have facilities for boarding. This forces passengers, after completing their check in, to take the automated people-mover systems or the train back to Terminal 1 for their flights.

According to the spokesman, about 3.2 million people checked in at Terminal 2 last year.

As of last month, a total of 27 airlines provide check-in services at Terminal 2.

Doubts grow over Hong Kong’s third runway as aviation department abandons plan for an abort path over PLA firing range

Difficulties finding route for aborted landings put third runway in doubt

Further doubts have been cast on the running of Chek Lap Kok airport’s proposed third runway, after the Civil Aviation Department said it would abandon a key flight path planned for aborted aircraft landings on the strip.

Routing planes over a firing range used by the People’s Liberation Army and police in Castle Peak, Tuen Mun, situated under the proposed missed- approach route, proved too challenging.

The department announced on Monday it had given up on this route – recommended by its British consultants – due to “technical issues”.

The Post revealed last month how the firing range posed a hazard to planes and that frequent shooting threatened to reduce the airspace available and limit the number of aircraft that can land.

At present, the airport’s two runways can handle 67 planes an hour. A third runway would see that capacity increase to 102.

In a statement, Hong Kong’s aviation regulator said: “Since the implementation of this flying procedure poses technological limitations to flight operations, such as on the requirement on the climb gradient, the Civil Aviation Department earlier decided not to adopt this procedure.”

A spokeswoman denied the issue was directly related to the firing range but reiterated it would comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation rules.

One of the few alternative flight paths for aborted landings would force planes arriving from Macau to make a sharp U-turn, coming immediately into conflict with planes approaching Shenzhen airport.

Michael Mo Kwan-tai, spokesman for the Airport Development Concern Network, said: “The CAD has taken a huge gamble in assuming the Shenzhen authorities would give way to missed-approach aircraft in order to give maximum capacity to the three-runway system.

“If Shenzhen will not give way, or in any circumstance the Pearl River Delta [airspace] integration plan does not include approval of this U-turn missed approach, the third runway will be screwed up,” he added.

Former aviation department chief Albert Lam Kwong-yu said to enter Shenzhen’s airspace, the department “must have agreement and consult its authorities”.

The sharp U-turn into mainland airspace is the only other flight path offered by the National Air Traffic Service that complies with global aviation laws.

Consultants carved out the “escape route” after assuming airspace would be merged with the Pearl River Delta and that the firing range would be shut down.

Source URL (modified on Apr 30th 2015, 3:01am):

Numbers don’t add up in runway plan

Thomas Chu Ka Wa, writing on April 24, says that “we must recognise that the future demand on the airport is strong and can be met only with new hardware” (“No basis for opposing third runway”). He goes on to suggest that the arguments of the opponents do not stand up to scrutiny as “we can all analyse the data and information available”.

Mr Chu’s “strong demand” and “data available” springs from past figures and trends to project a hypothetical future. The same approach was adopted in 2004 in the Port 2020 study – a projection which showed that we needed an additional container terminal.

The reality is, of course, vastly different – our once great port has succumbed to external market realities which were even then apparent to anyone with a less partisan view – and it is indeed fortunate that sane heads prevailed in this rare case and we were not saddled with another costly white elephant infrastructure project.

Our airport business is particularly vulnerable. If the one-third that stems from transit passengers is replaced by direct flights through new air service agreements with mainland China – as is a distinct probability – then we lose this leg of the stool. If the one-third that derives from air cargo falls away upon the decline of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta – as is already happening – then another leg becomes shaky.

And to assume that a city of but 7 million people will of itself fill the gaps thus lost in aircraft movements is extreme folly.

There is indeed a role in analysis of past trends, but it is unwise to adopt this without due rigour. The Port 2020 study demonstrated how a failure to examine the wider picture could have led us into a very costly blunder indeed.

I have read the detailed official analysis and justification for the third runway, and it is this case made that does not stand up to the scrutiny that Mr Chu suggests we all take.

Clive Noffke, Lantau

Source URL (modified on Apr 29th 2015, 5:07pm):

Key issue of airspace limits side-stepped

SCMP Letters to the Editor

The assistant director of civil aviation tells us that our airport will reach its upper limit of 68 air movements at the end of the year (“UK air traffic system not useful here”, April 27).

However, my understanding is that the limit of our two runways is actually about 80 but this cannot be reached because the central government has not sanctioned northward routes for departing aircraft. This limitation has been in place since the days of planning and has shown no signs of being lifted.

Does it not seem to be unwise to commit HK$140 billion on what is still only hope that this decision will be reversed to allow for full use of three runways: about 120 movements?

It will, of course, conform with the degree of foresight applied before government projects proceed in Hong Kong. We already have a cruise ship terminal with no cruise ships, so why not a third runway with no aeroplanes?

SP Li, Lantau