Aviation club takes off for Sek Kong
AVIATION enthusiasts have won a lengthy battle to move to Sek Kong.
The Hong Kong Aviation Club is moving to the New Territories airfield after it was banned from flying at Kai Tak airport for all but two hours in the morning.
The club has moved most of its planes to the airfield in the New Territories in a deal with the British Garrison that sees it use the same strip as the Royal Air Force.
The move came after the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) banned the club from using Kai Tak any time other than 7 am to 9 am.
''We have reached a very loose agreement with the British Forces which will terminate when they leave Hong Kong,'' club vice-president Nick Bennett said.
''We have been trying to move to Sek Kong for years but there have been various obstacles in the way.'' The move follows talks between the club and the CAD and Security Branch.
There had been a number of incidents at Kai Tak involving the club's light planes including an aborted landing in May after an Air China Boeing 747-400 was on the runway after apparently being held up by a club Cessna.
But the club was also having difficulty finding time to take off because of the airport's policy of giving its planes the lowest priority.
Pilots were only allowed to take off when there were gaps between commercial slots.
The CAD then banned the club from using the airport, apart from the two morning hours, from July 1. It was then that the Sek Kong move was agreed.
Mr Bennett said the CAD restricted use due to saturation at the airport.
''It will be less convenient at Sek Kong, but there are compensations in that at Kai Tak we were always being held back by other planes.'' The club previously used Sek Kong for training, paying an annual insurance premium but no landing fees, an arrangement which remains the same under the new agreement.
Mr Bennett said landing fees saved by moving from Kai Tak, which range from $87 to $130 for a Cessna, were not an issue in the decision.
The club has six Cessnas and a Slingsby aircraft as well as private users and has about 150 members who use the planes on a regular basis.