Air chief takes a flight path snooze
BY NICHOLAS IONIDES
DIRECTOR of Civil Aviation Peter Lok Kung-nam last night put on his blue-striped pyjamas as he prepared to spend the night in one of the noisiest flats under the Kai Tak flight path in Kowloon City.
He wanted to see if he could get to sleep, and to know what the 250,000 residents most affected felt each night.
His recent suggestion of a dramatic increase in the number of flights and a shorter overnight curfew drew an angry response from residents.
'I'm not trying to prove anything,' he said at the 200 square foot flat at the Grace Evangelical Free Church.
'I'm trying to appreciate what it feels like so that during the consultation I will be better able to appreciate the views of the residents.' He said he would be staying in a flat in Eastern District next week.
Meanwhile, the head of the church said his challenge to Mr Lok to spend a night was 'getting out of hand'.
The Reverend Chan Kam-hoi made the comment after three members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) asked his permission to join in last night's 'experiment' with Mr Lok and the Legislative Council's tourism representative, Howard Young.
Mr Chan said he was forced to reject the three DAB members' requests.
'If I allow this to go ahead, it will get out of hand,' Mr Chan said.
'First of all, I have no room. But we also have to put a stop to more visitors. I accepted Mr Lok and Mr Young's request because they asked, but now if I accept just one more I have to accept everybody. People have to respect that this is a church.' The three DAB members - former Eastern District Board member Chiu Shing-kee, former Wong Tai Sin District Board member Kan Chi-ho and current Kwun Tong District Board member Chan Kam-lam - made their requests through legislator Tam Yiu-chung.
Mr Lok's proposals for Kai Tak will see 224 more slots each week through an increase in the number of flights per hour - particularly in the early morning and at night - and a later closing time at the airport by one hour to 12.30 am.
Mr Lok said the additional flights would bring the territory an extra $4.3 billion in tourism revenue and about $160 million in landing charges and airport departure taxes.