Hong Kong must deter scalpers who profit from limited landing and take-off slots for private jets

Online booking system provides convenience but touts appear to be taking advantage of the platform to rake in cash

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 12:58am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 12:58am

Making bookings and reservations for all manner of services on the internet offers great convenience. But it also nurtures online touting and scalping. From tennis court bookings to tickets for pop concerts, there are always people trying to take advantage of the limited supply of facilities and services to make money. Adding to the list are slots for private jets landing and taking off at the Hong Kong International Airport. The South China Morning Post reported last week that unidentified companies or individuals were believed to be rigging a new booking system for profit. According to an industry source, the online booking platform was swamped by 40,000 hits on just one day alone, soon after the system was launched. The slots were then allegedly sold for a profit. The slots that remain free are released only 24 hours beforehand, giving genuine users little time to plan their trips.

Hong Kong airport runway slots being hijacked for profit via online booking system

There have been suggestions that each slot can fetch thousands of US dollars on the black market. This may be loose change for those who can afford to travel by private jet, but the scalping does undermine Hong Kong’s image as a business-friendly city. Such abuse can also deter some from making business trips to Hong Kong.

The Airport Authority is apparently aware of the irregularities, but says its has no evidence of scalping activities so far. As the manager of one of the world’s busiest airports, the authority has the duty to make the best use of resources and ensure there is fair access to its services and facilities.

The airport is the economic lifeline of the city. With over 1,000 flight movements on average each day, every minute counts. The success of our airport hinges on optimal use of resources and efficient operation. The alleged abuse is unacceptable for an airport that prides itself as a leading international aviation hub, even more so when the two runways are fast approaching their capacity. Officials should look into the matter further and ensure that scalpers cannot take advantage of the booking system.