Luggage late? It may be due to lightning
Passengers' annoyance over luggage delays has led the Airport Authority to publicise details of a warning system that alerts airport staff to approaching lightning.
'From time to time, we receive complaints from passengers while they are waiting for their luggage. They cannot understand why we stop operations,' Ng Chi-kee, the Airport Authority's airfield general manager, said yesterday.
He said the $3.3 million system was put in place in 2003, after 18 people were struck at the airport by lightning or injured in lightning-related incidents over the three previous years. Since then, no one has been injured in lightning-related incidents at the airport.
The system detects lightning partly via sensors at four China Light and Power stations that monitor approaching thunderstorms throughout Hong Kong. It issues two classes of warnings, amber when lightning is within 7km of the airport and red when lightning is detected at the airport.
Whenever a red warning is activated, red flashing lights and a blaring horn that sounds for five seconds at 25-second intervals alert staff to seek cover. Eleven shelters are located at remote locations at the airport to provide shelter where staff might otherwise be unable to take cover quickly.
Last year, 112 red warnings were issued, shutting down services for up to 80 minutes in one case.
Mr Ng said similar systems were in place at 17 other airports around the world. He said the only other similar system in Asia was at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and that some mainland airports were looking into installing the system.
The Airport Authority has also produced a video that will inform passengers when an alert has been issued.