How do you solve a problem like Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is regularly ranked as one of the top five places in the world to do business. But it is one of the least friendly to land a business jet.
Business aviation was never factored into the airport’s original design and as the airport reaches saturation, it has been forced out more and more to make room for more airline movements.
Just getting a slot to use the airport can be a nightmare. The number of business aircraft using the airport has dropped, falling by almost 30% in 2017. It is not due to a lack of demand.
Getting a slot can be a lottery. One operator says that during quiet times it’s not unusual for people to be sat in front of a computer, refreshing the slot allocation system every minute to try and find one.
One large multinational company was invited to Hong Kong by the local authorities who wanted it to set up an operation there, but the slot request for its private jet to use the airport was denied.
A new runway will become operational in 2022, which may alleviate some of the pressure, but it won’t be until several years after that work on the remaining runways will be completed, and Hong Kong will have all three runways operational.
I have just got back from AsBAA’s Annual Icons of Aviation Awards. But AsBAA should have given itself an award for finally getting airport authorities to at least consider business jets.
AsBAA had a big win in 2018, increasing available night time slots and expanding the number of types that can land at night.
But to solve the issue permanently, something more radical needs to be done, something more lasting, which can be future proofed.
There are two ideas being considered.
The first is to utilise Hong Kong’s unique geographical local to spread airline and cargo traffic out around the airports that are close. Shenzhen and Guangzhou on the Chinese mainland are just 24 miles and 84 miles away from Hong Kong airport respectively. Macau, the ex-Portuguese protectorate now known largely for its gambling, and Zhuhai on the mainland, is now linked to Hong Kong by a new bridge that opened just last month.
The second idea is the most radical of all. It involves Hong Kong building a new airport on land close to Shenzhen and sharing the airport with the Chinese megacity. If it works in Geneva, it could work here.