HK airport gets high marks for safety in international audit

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 July, 2009, 12:00am

An international audit of aviation safety ranked Hong Kong's airport fifth in the world and second in Asia. Chek Lap Kok got top marks for its resolution of safety concerns and the city's aviation laws.

The results were announced yesterday by the director general of civil aviation, Norman Lo Shung-man. He said the city had scored very highly in another of the eight categories, and had an overall mark of 94.47 per cent compared with the global average of 59.34 per cent.

He would not say where other airports ranked since the six-yearly audit, by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, was not finished.

The airport off Lantau Island is about to become even safer. It is preparing to switch to a state-of-the-art traffic control centre in 2013. The complex, at the southeastern corner of the airport, is under construction and will include public areas such as a library. The development would cost about HK$1.5 billion, Mr Lo said.

'The existing systems we are using are based on technologies from the early 1990s,' he said. 'Secondly, there is limited capacity in terms of the workstations available in the existing centre. The maximum we can have is 32 workstations.'

Of these workstations, 26 are in use. The new facility would be able to accommodate at least 56 workstations, which would allow the airport to manage the expected growth in air traffic up to 2025, the director general said.

The airport's two runways can handle up to 57 aircraft landings or take-offs every hour. Mr Lo said capacity was expected to rise to 58 per hour this year, to 62 per hour by 2012 and to 68 per hour by 2015. By making further adjustments, more flights could be accommodated. It was estimated each flight contributes economic benefits of more than HK$100,000 to Hong Kong, he said.

In the past 12 months the number of flights the airport has handled has fallen 5 per cent year on year. Some international airlines have reduced the frequency of flights on some routes, merged their operations or gone out of business amid the financial meltdown. Mr Lo believes the downturn has bottomed out.

The Civil Aviation Department is evaluating how it reviews the fuel surcharges airlines impose on passengers. One option was to increase the frequency of reviews from once every two months to monthly, Mr Lo said.

Up with the best

Chek Lap Kok is the second safest airport in Asia and the world's fifth safest

The International Civil Aviation Organisation gave an average score to the world's airports of just over 59 per cent for safety. Hong Kong's score was more than: 94%