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LCQ1: Hong Kong International Airport operation

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Kam-lam and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 12):


     Quite a number of employers have said that because of the long travelling distance and the inconvenient transport links between the Hong Kong International Airport and other districts, they have all along been unable to recruit enough staff to work at the airport, and such situation has not only seriously impacted the various services at the airport, but also weakened Hong Kong's competitiveness as an aviation hub. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the number of persons working at the airport in each of the past five years; the number of persons working at the airport at present, and the increase in the number of persons working at the airport as compared to that when the airport was commissioned;

(2) whether it knows the respective numbers of delayed arrival and departure flights and their respective percentages in the total number of flights, in each of the past five years, and the number of delay cases which were related to insufficient manpower of ground crews or other ancillary staff in each year;

(3) whether the Government and the Airport Authority have looked into the difficulties encountered by the companies concerned in recruiting staff to work at the airport; if so, of the specific measures in place to ensure the smooth operation of the airport, including whether special transport services will be provided for staff working at the airport to attract more residents from districts outside Lantau Island to work at the airport; and

(4) given that the current population of Tung Chung has just exceeded 80 000, of the respective numbers of people living and working in Tung Chung upon the completion of the third runway of the airport according to the estimation of the authorities, and whether the increased working population is sufficient to meet the additional labour demand arising from the expanded airport?



     My reply to the various parts of the question raised by Hon Chan Kam-lam is as follows:

(1) There were some 45 000 employees at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) after its commissioning in 1998. The Airport Authority (AA) conducted workforce surveys among the companies and organisations that operated on the airport island in 2008 and 2013. The survey findings revealed that some 60 000 and 65 000 people worked on the airport island in 2008 and 2013 respectively. Compared with the number of employees shortly after the commissioning of the airport, there was some 44 per cent increase in the work force on the airport island in 2013.

(2) As provided by the Civil Aviation Department (CAD), the number of flights delayed by more than 15 minutes and their percentages against the total number of flights at the HKIA in the past five years are set out at Annex.

     Flight delays are mainly attributable to a number of factors, including bad weather, air route and airspace restrictions or closure, and airlines' operational issues (such as aircraft inspection and maintenance) etc. According to the information of CAD, no flight delay cases were caused by insufficient ground crews or associated staff.

(3) The AA has been keeping close liaison with its business partners, franchisees and contractors on maintaining safety and efficient operation at the airport, including matters on manpower deployment.  

     The AA actively discusses with the industry on implementation of appropriate measures to recruit more manpower. For example, AA jointly organised job fairs with the Labour Department or industry players in the past three years. Besides, AA organises briefings and visits for secondary schools and tertiary institutions from time to time to let students know more about the operation and future development plan of the airport, as well as the employment opportunities, so as to encourage them to join the aviation industry upon graduation. The AA and the industry has also been improving the various facilities in the airport, for example, providing additional staff canteens and rest rooms etc to provide a good working environment for airport staff.

     Besides, in its contracts with the franchisees and contractors, the AA clearly stipulates that they should deploy sufficient resources to ensure smooth operation, and that the services provided are up to standard. Companies operating in the airport also have the obligation to ensure that sufficient manpower is available to meet their business development and operational needs. The AA will also provide training to its business partners and their staff to help new recruits to familiarise themselves with the work environment and work flow as early as possible.

     With a view to improving transport arrangements for airport staff, the AA has been working with the Transport Department (TD), public transport operators and business partners. Since the end of 2012, the AA has held regular meetings with representatives from TD, public transport operators and business partners. The purposes of these meetings are to find out airport staff's transport needs, listen to their views on existing public transport services and consider ways to further improve transport services and arrangements. In this connection, the franchised bus companies have implemented a series of measures, such as providing more bus-bus interchange concessions and increasing frequency. Since a large number of airport staff live in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai, the franchised bus companies have increased the peak-hour frequency of the concerned bus routes. They have also introduced overnight bus routes and improved routing to shorten the long journey time. In addition, some employers on the airport island are providing non-franchised bus services for their employees based on their transport needs, connecting the airport island with various locations on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and the New Territories.  

     The AA will continue to closely monitor public transport services and arrangements, and explore with the TD and public transport operators to make further improvements. In addition, the AA welcomes collaboration with operators on the airport island to initiate feasible proposals.

(4) According to the initial land use options proposed in the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study, there will be commercial land use alongside with residential land use in the extension areas in order to create diversified employment opportunities generated from offices, retail facilities, hotels, marinas, etc. The airport expansion project will also create jobs for the airport and Tung Chung as well. With the operation of the three-runway system at the HKIA, it is expected that some 140 000 posts will be created directly by 2030. With the implementation of the North Commercial District development project, we believe that more employment opportunities can be created. It is estimated that the future Tung Chung New Town will accommodate a total population of 259 000 to 274 000 (including the 121 000 residential population already planned), which will provide extra labour supply for the extended new town and the development of the HKIA. Details of the projected working population will be subject to findings of the Tung Chung New Town Extension Study which is will be completed by 2015. In any event, it is expected that AA and other organisations on the airport island will continue to recruit talent from other districts in Hong Kong as appropriate.

Ends/Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:31


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