Hong Kong airport is busy without due benefit or reward

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 2:05pm

On the face of it, the New Star Restaurant on Stanley Main Street and the Hong Kong Airport Authority have little in common. This is not so; both in their own way have very valuable premises from which they derive their income.

Thereafter, however, they have nothing in common. Unlike the Airport Authority, which prides itself on managing a "hub" and deriving minimal income from its increasingly scarce landing slots, the New Star Restaurant ensures that its premises are occupied by customers paying an economic return. It does this by levying a minimum charge.

One (the Airport Authority) endeavours to be busy whilst caring little for revenue, the other (New Star Restaurant) discourages non-paying occupants and maximises its revenue.

Chek Lap Kok was never intended to be operated as it now is. The Kai Tak experience was that wide-bodied planes would maximise the few landing slots of the single runway - and so they did. Chek Lap Kok was intended to be operated the same way, but then the business model changed.

Faced with an apparently underused airport, the Airport Authority was encouraged to open landing slots to anyone offering a new destination, and to forgo the landing fees normally receivable. The scheme was called the New Destination Incentive Arrangement, and was and is intended to make Hong Kong an aviation "hub".

The outcome is that the airport is reaching capacity well before its originally predicted time, with the slots intended for wide-bodied planes being overtaken by a plethora of low-income-earning narrow-bodied aircraft serving low-volume destinations.

We are "busy" but without due benefit and reward for our considerable investment. "Activity for the sake of it" is another way of looking at it.

My money is on the New Star Restaurant.

Clive Noffke, Lantau