Necessary to cede Hong Kong airspace to Shenzhen, said Civil Aviation Department – Third Runway as a repeat of Express Rail Link’s “One Jurisdiction, Two Border Controls”

In order to investigate the impacts of the three-runway system and its underlying aviation safety concerns, Green Sense and Airport Development Concern Network joined hands and analysed over 18,000 flight movements during January, 2016.

Background of the Airspace Conflict

Due to the proximity between the airports in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macau, some flight paths of the Third Runway would need to cross the low-altitude airspace of Shenzhen. In particular, the “North-westward Departure Route” of the central runway and the “Missed Approach track” of the northern runway would clash with the busy “South-westward Landing Route” of the Shenzhen International Airport in low-altitude airspace. Besides, they would also cross with the “North-eastward Departure Route” of the Macau International Airport. The vertical distance between the flights might not meet international safety standard, indicating a risk of plane crash. More precisely, there might be severe airspace conflicts between Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Analysis of data from January, 2016

According to the analysis of the two organisations, flight paths of the three-runway system would conflict with 60% of some 8,000 landing flights in Shenzhen and over 90% of some 1,600 departing flights from Macau. In other words, the airspace issue sprung from the three-runway system could not be resolved solely by Hong Kong on its own.

Airspace conflicts remain unresolved – bound to be the “Express Rail Link in the air”

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam believes the three-runway airspace conflicts could only result in two scenarios:

Scenario A: “Sharing Airspace” – Shenzhen and Hong Kong surrender part of their airspace to each other

It violates Article 130 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

Scenario B: “Unified Airspace” – China-Hong Kong airspace would be administered by one air traffic control unit.

Given the current political situation, it is predicted that the air traffic control unit would be led and managed by the Mainland, which violates Article 130 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

Tam could not see any solutions: “The ultimate dilemma of the Third Runway repeats the co-location arrangement controversy of the Express Rail Link: either “two jurisdictions, two border controls”, which very much differs from the original design; or “one jurisdiction, two border controls”, which violates the Basic Law and erodes the “One Country, Two Systems”. If Hong Kong is to maintain the current airspace arrangement, then the three-runway system would not be able to achieve the efficiency proposed by the Airport Authority. Meanwhile, if the three-runway system is implemented regardless, then Hong Kong would lose its airspace autonomy and become further manipulated by the Mainland. The Third Runway will end up like an Express Rail Link in the air – it is a waste of resources, a curse to the environment.”

Green Sense urges that the Third Runway project must be halted at all cost. The Runway should not be built, given its destruction to the environment, enormous costs and potential airspace conflicts.