Mainland fear over airspace

IT would be necessary for Hong Kong to allow mainland authorities to administer its airspace if the airport’s third runway is to be built, an aviation official told lawmakers.

Members of the Legislative Council’s (立法會) subcommittee on the third runway expressed fears that issues arising from a new runway would be a repeat of the Express Rail Link (廣深港高速鐵路香港段) co-location plan for immigration matters, as the transport chief refused to state publicly the airspace arrangements.

When the third runway is built, the number of flights per hour would increase to 102, and it would be inevitable for Hong Kong to let mainland authorities administer some of its airspace, said Samuel Ng (吳毅賢), senior evaluation officer of the Civil Aviation Department (民航處).

The arrangement is in line with the Basic Law (基本法) and international standards, Ng said.

Lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok (陳家洛 ) said Hong Kong people may not feel comfortable with letting mainland authorities administer their airspace.

Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) said the biggest problem is that lawmakers have no idea about what agreement the SAR government reached with its mainland counterpart.

“I can smell the scent of the Express Rail Link,” Lee said.

Ng said when the airport reaches its highest capacity of 68 flights per hour, as it did once last winter, the main constraint is the safety distance between aircraft required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO, 國際民用航空組織).

He said delegation of airspace conforms with regulations of the ICAO, and is a common international practice, giving Singapore (新加坡) and Malaysia (馬來西亞) as an example.

(This article is published on The Student Standard on 15 April 2016)

The Basic Law

The Three-Runway System