Holidaymakers' exodus keeps checkpoints busy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 April, 2007, 12:00am

Tens of thousands of holidaymakers swamped the airport and border checkpoints yesterday to take advantage of the five-day holiday.

The early dash on the first day of the Ching Ming Festival and Easter holiday saw a steady stream of people during the day passing through the 10 checkpoints. Immigration officers manning the desks handled the exodus smoothly.

Lo Wu was busiest, with 233,200 travellers leaving Hong Kong and 112,110 arriving by 10pm. During the morning rush, it took travellers 30 minutes to clear immigration and customs, although 72 counters and 50 e-channel terminals - the self-service immigration clearance system - were opened.

Later in the day, the waiting time dropped to between five and 10 minutes.

Chek Lap Kok airport was also busy. By 10pm, 102,824 travellers had flown in and out. In the morning, some people complained of having to wait for an hour to check in.

Many people said they had chosen to spend the holiday overseas because of the better social and economic sentiment. One traveller said: 'The economy has turned better and I got a pay rise, so I think I should have a good holiday with my family.'

It was the first long holiday since new security measures were put in place last month. The Airport Authority said extra staff had been deployed to assist passengers.

The tightened measures, introduced to comply with guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, require all liquids, gels, and aerosols in hand baggage to be stored in containers with a capacity of less than 100ml and be packed in a transparent resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 litre.

Airlines have added 252 flights during the holiday period, mostly for Bangkok, Osaka, and Kunming , in Yunnan province .

Meanwhile, heavy traffic clogged roads leading to the Lok Ma Chau vehicle border control point.

Outward bound

Number of people who left the city by 10pm: 495,273