New flight path to Hong Kong to save time, cut emissions

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am

About eight million passengers flying to Hong Kong each year will save up to 14 minutes on their journey time thanks to the rerouting of a northern flight path this month.

The new air path, in effect from October 22, will help about 150 flights - from the mainland, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East - to cut up to 210 kilometres off their trips, a total saving of more than 10 million kilometres per year.

The Civil Aviation Department said it could not state the amount of aviation fuel that would be saved with the new route. Nor could it predict whether the savings would lead to a reduction in the fuel surcharge - a levy imposed on air passengers that has just gone up by 3 per cent.

'The ultimate saving in fuel consumption is determined by the type of carrier, its fuel efficiency, mileage, the number of passengers on board and weather conditions,' the department's acting assistant director general, Simon Li Tin-chui, said.

If all 150 of the incoming flights were Airbus 330s, up to 10,000 tonnes of fuel could be saved in a year, and emissions of carbon dioxide would be reduced by a maximum of 30,000 tonnes.

Airlines will submit applications for levy adjustments by the end of this month, after the department shortens the review period from every two months to every month. Li said the department would consider airlines' fuel consumption and imported fuel prices in calculating the levy.

The rerouting is made possible by the latest development in satellite navigation technology. It is part of a package of measures designed to increase Chek Lap Kok airport's runway capacity from the current 57 flights an hour to 68 by 2015.

The department said more rerouting would be introduced eventually for inbound flights from the east and southeast - including Taiwan, Japan, North America and Australia.

But Hong Kong has lagged behind the United States and Europe for many years in deploying the technology at civilian airports.

Explaining Hong Kong's delay, Li said authorities wanted to wait until many carriers could take advantage of the changes. 'We hope every flight will be able to fly the new route, not just a few out of 100.'

Carriers must be equipped with the right global positioning systems to receive the satellite signals, and officials need time to make adjustments in air traffic monitoring procedures and retrain their staff.