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View Poll Results: Scale from 1 to 10, 10 being SUPER and 1 being BAD, what would you rate the Airport??
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Old June 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM   #1041
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You're very welcome. But all this is not possible without the hard work of all the photographers who spend a lot of their time plane-spotting regularly :

Two more from : http://www.pbase.com/turbinedux/



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Old June 15th, 2005, 10:15 AM   #1042
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Transiting at Hong Kong International Airport
Video : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/a...al_transit.wmv


http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/a..._transfer.html

If you HAVE an onward Boarding Pass

* Just follow the directional sign to any Transfer Areas or any of the "Departures".
* You will be required to go through security screening.
* Check your departure GATE and TIME.
* Be punctual at gate 30 Minutes before departure time.

If you DO NOT HAVE an onward Boarding Pass

* Check out your airline's designated Transfer Area.
* Follow the directional sign to the designated Transfer Areas for the CHECK IN.
* You will be required to go through security screening.
* Check your departure GATE and TIME.
* Be punctual at gate 30 Minutes before departure time.

For Cathay Pacific Transfer Desk, go to Areas E2 or W1.

Please enjoy your Transit in Hong Kong. Explore our airport by visiting the following:

# SkyMart Shopping Outlets : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/skymart/dining.html
# FREE Internet Zone : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/it.html
# Beauty Salon, Shower & Premium Lounges : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/beauty.html
# Foot & Head Massage : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/aguide/rest.html
# Food & Beverage : http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/s.../shopping.html
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Old June 15th, 2005, 06:08 PM   #1043
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Shanghai Airlines commences services at Hong Kong International Airport
Airport Authority Hong Kong welcomes new air rights initiatives

Airport Authority Press Release

(HONG KONG, 14 June 2005) - Five weekly freighter services between Hong Kong and Shanghai will be added to Hong Kong International Airport's (HKIA) network with the launch of Shanghai Airlines' all-cargo service today.

Airport Authority Hong Kong's (AA) Chief Executive Officer, Dr David J Pang, welcomed Shanghai Airlines to HKIA, "We are delighted to have Shanghai Airlines join the HKIA community. The new service will further consolidate HKIA as an international air cargo hub and gateway of China. As a result of our Government's efforts in progressively liberalising air services between Hong Kong and the Mainland, more carriers will be allowed to provide air services between Hong Kong and Shanghai, giving our customers more choice of products and services."

"The Government's latest initiatives in liberalising air rights between Hong Kong and Singapore, Bahrain, Mexico and Germany will certainly enhance air traffic between economies and lead the way to more flight frequencies," Dr Pang added.

The Hong Kong-Shanghai route is one of the major growing cargo routes for HKIA, recording a significant increase in cargo throughput from 122,800 tonnes in 2003 to 167,000 tonnes in 2004, representing a growth of 36 per cent. In addition to services provided by Hong Kong Dragon Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways commenced all-cargo services between Hong Kong and Shanghai in January 2005. Shanghai Airlines is the fourth carrier to provide all-cargo services.

Mr Liu Hele, Cargo General Manager of Shanghai Airlines said at the launch ceremony, "With Shanghai and Hong Kong being economic engines in their respective regions of the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, this new service will establish an even closer tie between two of the major cities in China and further stimulate economic activities between the two regions."

Shanghai Airlines operates a round trip everyday except Mondays and Saturdays, with a Boeing 737 aircraft.

The airline is the fourth Mainland carrier to provide new services at HKIA in the first half of the year. Sichuan Airlines commenced services at HKIA to Chongqing in May, while Air China and Xiamen Airlines launched new flights to Hangzhou and Fuzhou respectively in April.

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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:11 AM   #1044
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Airport privatisation only way to ensure decent return for taxpayers
14 June 2005
South China Morning Post

"The government hopes that privatisation will strengthen the AA's (Airport Authority's) market discipline in running of the airport for greater efficiency and more commercial opportunities. It will introduce an additional quality stock to our financial market and enable Hong Kong people to own shares in our successful airport. In addition, proceeds from sale of shares in AA would bring capital revenue to the government in the medium term."

"Before proceeding with the consultation on the means of achieving the specific goals of a particular privatisation project, the objectives must be clear. If the purpose is to raise money, there should be clearly stated reasons why the funds are necessary."

IF MR WOON wanted specific goals, he had them six months before he wrote on the chamber's behalf last week to object to the airport privatisation. The objectives stated in the public consultation document seem plenty clear to me.

I shall grant you that over those six months the government's fiscal position improved to such an extent as to make an additional source of capital revenue a less pressing reason to privatise the airport.

I shall also grant you that there is no pressing need to have more stocks listed on our stock market when the capitalisation of that market has already reached five times the size of our gross domestic product.

But the primary objective of privatisation was always to make the Airport Authority a more efficient commercial entity and this remains as valid an objective as ever. It is also a clearly stated one.

Let me put the issues at stake here in plainer terms. In the year to March last year, the airport turned a profit of $386 million, which amounted to a 1 per cent return on equity. This equity, let us remember, is our equity. We, the taxpayers of Hong Kong, subscribed to it, and a 1 per cent return is a miserable return.

The airport's earnings for its latest financial year will be reported soon and they will undoubtedly be much better, probably about $1 billion. But this still amounts to barely a 3 per cent return on equity. Since it was completed seven years ago, the airport has never come close to achieving its 5 per cent target return and even 5 per cent is low by any international benchmark.

Bear in mind too that this equity figure represents only our $36 billion investment in the airport itself and does not include the related infrastructure of the Airport Express, the Tsing Ma bridge and the airport highway. The Airport Express alone cost more than that $36 billion direct investment in the airport.

Thus, to give privatisation of the airport any chance of succeeding at a price that would be at least equal to our investment in it, airport charges will have to go up. The mooted figure is an increase of 25 per cent and even that may not be enough.

This is not a welcome prospect to certain vested corporate interests such as the airlines and our noisy tourism lobby, which is always too ready to assume that public money will be used to prop up its private returns. They therefore object to privatisation.

And now we come to the critical question. Just who does the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce represent?

Exactly. That membership may be wider than the lobby group of airport users alone but a narrow constituency can speak with a loud voice and I suspect it has done so. In my opinion, our government ought to treat Mr Woon's objections with more than just the usual pinch of salt. His is no disinterested input.

The fact is that privatisation will indeed be the best way of guaranteeing commercial efficiency at the airport. It will also give us a decent return on our investment at last and ensure that when a new runway must be built, which is inevitable with the present 10 per cent annual growth of traffic, we will not have the users' lobby looking for the money in the taxpayers' pockets again.

Mr Woon's constituents may, of course, wish to object that the airport brings Hong Kong general social benefits and, therefore, its direct investment returns in money terms should be kept derisory.

To those who espouse this view, I have an alternative commercial model to propose.

If we are to be repaid in such nebulous coin, then we shall deal in kind. For the next big project you have in mind, we shall contribute as many warm feelings of social goodness as you care to ask, billions of them if you want.

But if it is money you want, then talk money. It goes two ways.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:13 AM   #1045
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Budget carrier Oasis HK seeks to fly to 6 Europe/US destinations - report
15 June 2005

HONG KONG (AFX) - Start-up budget carrier Oasis Hong Kong Airlines is seeking permission to fly to six destinations in Europe and the United States, the South China Morning Posted reported.

The paper said Oasis, which is majority-owned by Richard Lee Cho-min and his wife Priscilla, has asked regulators for licenses to fly to Cologne, Milan, Berlin, London, Oakland and Chicago before the launch of its operations by year-end.

The start-up has yet to be awarded an air operator's certificate, the usual precursor to an application with the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA), the report said, citing the Civil Aviation Department.

It said Oasis asked the department in February for a certificate but a decision is still pending.

The paper added that Oasis' move may be contested by Cathay Pacific Airways for breaking established practices for license application with ATLA.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #1046
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Thursday June 16, 7:09 PM
HK Dragonair May Passengers Up 27% On Yr;Cargo Vol Up 20%

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd. said Thursday its May passenger traffic rose 27.3% from a year earlier, accelerating from a 13.2% gain in April.

The number of passengers was boosted by two holidays during the month.

The airline, also known as Dragonair, carried 418,435 passengers in May, up from 328,675 in the same month last year. Cargo volumes rose 20.4% during the same period due to increased capacity and new destinations.

Chief Executive Stanley Hui said apart from the holidays, Dragonair's expanded timetable helped boost passenger traffic compared to the same month last year.

But he said business travel was slower during the first half of the month as a result of the 'Golden Week' holidays in China, which led to fewer people flying on business to Chinese cities.

For Dragonair, high fuel prices continue to be a major concern.

"Fuel costs now regularly account for about a quarter of all costs," said Hui. "The surcharges on tickets and shipments only partially cover these increased costs, and it makes for an altogether very tough operating environment."

Unlisted Dragonair's major shareholders are China National Aviation Co. (1110.HK), which holds a 43.3% stake; CITIC Pacific Ltd. (0267.HK), with 29.4%; Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (0293.HK), with 17.8%; and Swire Pacific Ltd. (0019.HK), which holds 7.7%.
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Old June 16th, 2005, 08:48 PM   #1047
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港龍艙壓失衡乘客噴鼻血
文: 記者杜寶琪
15/06/2005



港龍航空一架由港飛南京的航機,起飛不久疑因氣壓系統失靈,致航機攀升萬呎高空後機艙內氣壓急跌,機上有乘客流鼻血及暈眩,幸機師及時打開安全閥,航機五分鐘後折返本港安全陸。民航處只要求港龍交報告,但隱瞞事件,直至本報追問至昨晚才回覆,聲稱無人受傷。但本報獲得可靠消息,事件涉人為疏忽,且最少有一名不適乘客循民事訴訟向航空公司索償。

事發在十九日前的五月二十九日,港龍一架航班編號KA812的A320空中巴士,載六十四名乘客及七名機組人員由本港飛往南京,但起飛約五分鐘攀升至逾一萬呎高空,機師發現機艙氣壓控制系統發生故障,於是原機折返本港。當時機艙內已有乘客感不適,出現流鼻血徵狀,由於機師並沒有說明問題,只透過廣播指機件故障要折返便了事。抵港後,港龍安排另一班航機送乘客離開,故大部分乘客也不知事件的實情。

求醫揭發受氣壓創傷
不過,部分乘客事後求醫才發現受氣壓創傷,追問下揭發懷疑有人隱瞞事件,已透過律師向航空公司追究責任。據悉,該事件發生後,港龍對事故非常重視,即聯絡維修公司調查原因。而維修公司亦即時召開千人大會,訓示員工要小心及不能再犯同樣過失。可靠消息稱,事件疑涉及人為疏忽。不過,民航處接獲通知後,未即時透過「須予報告的意外」向外界公布事件,只要求港龍及維修公司提交報告了事。

本報獲悉事件後,連日來向民航處及港龍航空查詢,但一直未收到回覆。民航處更以資料不清楚為理由,直至本報幾乎把事件內容詳述,民航處及港龍航空至昨日傍晚才回覆本報,承認機艙氣壓控制系統的保護蓋未有移走所引致,但卻沒有承認事件涉人為疏忽,也不肯承認有人感不適。

機師暈眩可引致空難
民航處前處長樂鞏南說,飛機一起飛便要向上攀升,並開啟氣壓系統為機艙加壓,若沒有移走保護蓋,便無法為機艙加壓,飛機不會爆炸,但飛機上的人卻會因機艙氣壓過低,便會產生潛水員急升水面所遇到同樣情況,出現流鼻血及暈眩,若機師也暈眩不適,便容易引致失控墜機嚴重事故。他又說,在機艙無加壓的情況下上升一萬呎,即約起飛五分鐘,機上乘客便會開始有流鼻血情況出現。醫學會會長蔡堅稱,若飛機的氣壓突變,如飛機突由高空墜下,令氣壓急變至海平面氣壓,可致乘客耳膜疼痛及穿破,而肺部空氣亦會被抽走,導致肺部氣胸,令乘客呼吸困難,嚴重者更可致命。勞永樂醫生則指出,機師也在航班上,亦受機艙氣壓過高影響,初時會耳痛、流鼻血,若出現暈眩,便很有機會發生撞機危險。

太陽報
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Old June 17th, 2005, 10:29 AM   #1048
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Branson wants more flights to Australia
Tansy Harcourt
16 June 2005
Australian Financial Review

The Kangaroo route is growing and the airline wants more freedom to increase capacity, writes Tansy Harcourt.

Virgin Atlantic has called on the Australian and British governments to relax regulations on flights between the two countries to accommodate higher projected growth on the Kangaroo route.

The two governments meet next week for air services negotiations, as they seek to accommodate changes in the industry since the last agreement in 1997.

The talks follow the Australian government's postponement of a decision on a Singapore Airlines request to fly between Australia and the United States.

"Our interest is to have a much more liberal regime than in the past," Virgin Atlantic head of Asia-Pacific Mackenzie Grant said.

The existing agreement allows for 28 services a week for London-based carriers and the same for Australian carriers.

Qantas operates 27 flights a week and will increase that to 28 when it adds its extra service through Hong Kong. From the UK, British Airways holds the rights for 21 services and Virgin Atlantic has the other seven, which means neither airline can increase their flights.

"We would like the agreement to be liberalised so we can add extra flights when we want to," Mr Grant said.

Airlines such as Emirates are also seeking greater access to and through Australia but its rights come under an agreement between Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Virgin Atlantic said its bookings had been increasing gradually since starting flights to Australia and its bookings for July in both directions had reached 90 per cent.

Virgin Atlantic started flying between Sydney and London via Hong Kong in December last year and hopes to increase its offering to include services from other Australian cities.

In the meantime, the airline has done a code-share deal with Virgin Blue, giving seamless connections for travellers on both airlines, which are part-owned by Richard Branson.

The code-share deal was dependent on developing new software that allowed Virgin Blue's low-cost booking IT platform, Navitaire Open Skies, to integrate with the traditional reservations system used by Virgin Atlantic.

The new technology would enable Virgin Atlantic travellers from London and Hong Kong to also connect to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns, the Gold Coast and Coolangatta on a single code.

The better link between Virgin Atlantic and its domestic sister airline would help boost its prominence in the Australian market, according to Mr Grant.

"It helps to build market awareness . . . It's been more difficult in Australia because we are the fifth Virgin brand."

The airline has also struggled to overcome confusion between its luxurious service offering and that of low-cost airline Virgin Blue.

"We even get people in the travel trade asking us to guarantee their clients won't have to buy their meals on board," Mr Grant said. "But we are getting there."
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Old June 17th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #1049
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By AN888 from HKADB :



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Old June 17th, 2005, 10:32 AM   #1050
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Airlines Flying to Hong Kong Can Save $300 Mln Annually from Route Optimisation - IATA
9 June 2005
China News Digest

Airlines flying to Hong Kong could save $300 mln (245 mln euro) annually if air routes in the Pearl River Delta region, southern China, are optimised, Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in Tokyo.

The airspace 30 km to 40 km north and west of Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport is under control of the Hong Kong authority. However, an old statute of the Mainland China air traffic authority makes it impossible for planes to enter Hong Kong airspace from the north. The statute allows planes to enter Hong Kong airspace only from above 20,000 feet (6,100 m), while planes cannot descend to the airport from such a height in only 30 km. As a result planes have to make a 20-min detour and enter Hong Kong airspace from the south. The detour costs airlines a combined $300 mln (245 mln euro) in extra fuel costs and other expenses related to the longer flight.

If the duration of all flights in the world could be reduced by one minute, airlines would save a combined $700 mln (572 mln euro) annually and emit 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide less, Bisignani said.

Airspace fees are another factor that is driving up airline costs. Russia currently has the highest airspace fees in the world, equalling $1.0 (0.82 euro) for each km flown across Russian territory. The shortest non-stop route from Hong Kong to New York goes over the North Pole and across 8,000 km of Russian airspace, equalling a fee of $8,000 (6,530 euro) paid to Russia for each flight. However, flying to New York across the Pacific Ocean, which is international territory, is not an option, as the trip would be two hours longer than the 13-hour flight across Russia.

http://www.xmatc.com
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Old June 17th, 2005, 10:32 AM   #1051
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hey guys ..

i don't know its already posted or not, but this picture shows the HK Airport by 2040

http://www.rap.ucar.edu/asr97/scihi.html
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Old June 18th, 2005, 01:33 AM   #1052
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old plan
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Old June 18th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #1053
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TU154M by dynasty641 from HKADB :





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Old June 19th, 2005, 06:12 PM   #1054
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Stanley Ho to buy 80pc of Golden Dragon
17 June 2005
Hong Kong Standard

The family of casino tycoon Stanley Ho plans to buy an 80 percent stake in Golden Dragon Airlines, taking control of the 12-year-old carrier that plans to start flights from Macau to the mainland by next year, said an industry source.

Ho will hold the stake through his helicopter firm, East Asia Airlines, and manage the carrier through his budget airline start-up, Hong Kong Express, said the source.

Lam Kuo, founder of Golden Dragon, will retain a 20 percent stake.

"Ho and Lam have been good friends for a long time and both are upbeat about the outlook for Macau," said Lam's personal assistant, Helen Ko. She declined to comment on Ho's investment in the company.

Macau has seen tourism boom since liberalizing the gambling industry in 2002. The city's economy grew 8.5 percent in the first quarter, thanks to a 19 percent increase in visitor arrivals.

Air Macau, the only airline based in the city so far, is in talks with Shun Tak Holdings, a Hong Kong-based developer also controlled by Ho's family, to set up a budget airline, despite Australia's Virgin Blue quitting talks.

Another start-up, Wow Macau, which is in negotiations with Air Macau for a sub-concession license, will probably reach a deal over the next three to four weeks, said chief executive Andrew Pyne.

Golden Dragon, founded in May 1993 and with small operations in the mainland, has been granted rights to fly from Macau to eight cities across the border, including Guangzhou and Nanning, as well as Hanoi in Vietnam and Vietiane in Laos, sources said earlier.

Ho and Lam are still in talks on the airline's valuation, so there is no price tag on the Golden Dragon stake, said the source.

The airline's investment in the first two years will be 160 million patacas, said Ko, adding that Golden Dragon will launch the first service from Macau to the mainland by the end of next year. It will have 200 staff initially.

Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, managing director of Hong Kong-based budget carrier Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, said the company obtained the required endorsement document from the Air Transport Licensing Authority last Friday.
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Old June 20th, 2005, 07:03 AM   #1055
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Helicopter victims recovering as investigators scour crash site
Benjamin Wong
13 June 2005
South China Morning Post

The prominent lawyer injured in Saturday's private helicopter crash in Sai Kung is putting a brave face on the accident, her father said last night.

Lily Fenn Kar-bak - the first woman in Hong Kong to get a helicopter pilot's licence - was tired but resting comfortably in a stable condition last night. Her father said she had been ordered to rest but told him she did not feel too scared before the crash, which injured the pilot and another passenger.

The pilot, solicitor Matthew Chan, was listed in serious condition while another female passenger was in stable condition.

Air accident inspectors returned to the isolated High Island site yesterday, warning that it could take months and possibly years to establish the cause, the Civil Aviation Department said.

The wreckage of the private helicopter was cut apart yesterday and taken to a hangar at Chek Lap Kok airport for examination. Police also searched the crash site for scattered fragments of the wreckage.

It was suspected the helicopter crashed after encountering crosswinds while taking off.

A spokeswoman said experts from the department would investigate the crash from multiple perspectives. "The investigators will look at many aspects, such as airworthiness [of the aircraft], the pilot's control, the air traffic conditions, as well as others," she said.

The helicopter parts were airlifted out of the site and taken to the department's airport hangar by truck, the spokeswoman said.

Air accident investigations usually took months and sometimes years to complete, she said, and a report on Saturday's accident was not expected soon.

Ms Fenn, 46, the first and only female private helicopter pilot in Hong Kong, was recovering in Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital yesterday and did not comment on the accident.

The helicopter was piloted by her law firm partner, Matthew Chan. Also on board were a female friend of the two lawyers and her husband. The wife was in the same hospital in stable condition, while the husband escaped unharmed.

The victims suffered waist and neck injuries as well as fractures.

According to the Civil Aviation Department, there are about 30 pilots licensed to fly private helicopters in the city. The department says there are only seven privately owned helicopters in Hong Kong, with some jointly owned by licensed pilots. The Hong Kong Aviation Club, which has 500 local members, said about 20 more private helicopter pilots were training.
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Old June 20th, 2005, 07:08 AM   #1056
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Departing HKIA by SuperJet from HKADB :

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Old June 21st, 2005, 06:36 PM   #1057
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Jun 16 2005
Dragonair - Long Weekends Boost Year-on-Year Passenger Numbers
Corporate Press Release

(HONG KONG) Two long-weekend holidays in May helped boost year-on-year passenger numbers 27.3% in May, while additional capacity and new destinations saw cargo shipments rise 20.4% on the same basis. "There were two long-weekend holidays in May this year, Labour Day and Buddha's birthday, which along with our expanded operational timetable saw passenger numbers rise over May last year," said Dragonair CEO Stanley Hui. "Leisure travel by groups was particularly strong as a result." The airline flew 418,435 passengers in May, up from 328,675 in the same month last year.

"Business travel was lower in the first half of the month, however. This was due to the 'Golden Week' holiday in the Mainland, which led to fewer people flying to cities such as Shanghai for business at that time. "Additionally, May is usually a slower month for travel than April."

Showing a similar pattern, cargo shipments in May increased strongly on a year-on-year basis, up 20.4%. "We are operating a lot more services this year, and have added London, Frankfurt and New York in the past year, leading to the high year-on-year increase," said Mr. Hui. "But again the Golden Week holiday had an impact on manufacturing activity. The lower level of cargo business was anticipated, and we took the opportunity to schedule regular maintenance checks on the freighter fleet during the lull. Meanwhile, May was another month in which the price of fuel remained high.

"Fuel costs now regularly account for about a quarter of all costs, and this is a huge concern," Mr. Hui noted. "The surcharges on tickets and shipments only partially cover these increased costs, and it makes for an altogether very tough operating environment."

Data : http://www.dragonair.com/icms/servle...=2434&lang=eng
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 06:24 AM   #1058
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Airport touts killing business, say cabbies
Petrina Chan
22 June 2005
South China Morning Post

The Airport Authority yesterday pledged to increase vigilance against illegal transport operators after taxi drivers protested that their business was down 80 per cent because of such services.

The Airport Authority made the promise after meeting representatives of a group of 60 taxi drivers who staged a protest at Chek Lap Kok airport.

The drivers said the unlicensed operators stole their business by offering to drive customers to or across the border at a much lower price.

A taxi trip to Sheung Shui costs about $330 but it only costs $150 to get across the border to Huanggang using the unlicensed operators.

Suen Chi-hung, chairman of the New Territories Drivers' Rights Alliance, criticised the government for not doing enough to get rid of illegal drivers. "Our business has decreased by 80 per cent. The police need to increase manpower to control illegal vehicle businesses."

The drivers said competition was further intensified after the Airport Authority on Friday authorised a new transport service, the "door-to-door" seven-seater van. These vans take customers directly from the airport to areas such as Dongguan and Huanggang.

Prices are also $150 per person. Frequent traveller and Taiwan businessman Mr Choi said he would opt for the $150 choice.

"I come [to Hong Kong] once a month and head to China for business."

Airport Authority spokesman Steven Lam Wa-kwai, said it never accepted the presence of illegal vehicle services.

But Mr Lam said: "We'll co-ordinate with the police and re-evaluate how to strengthen operations against illegal touting activities."

The police handled 50 touting cases at the airport last year when 62 people were arrested.

In the first five months this year, 20 people were arrested for the offence.

Mr Suen said there were far more illegal operators than the figures suggested. The drivers said the relevant government department promised to meet them again on July 1.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 04:41 PM   #1059
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Dragonair shuts office in tourist resort Phuket
22 June 2005
South China Morning Post

Dragonair shuts office in tourist resort phuket

Hong Kong Dragon Airlines has closed its office in Phuket, signalling an end of the carrier's scheduled services to the popular Thai tourist destination that was badly damaged in December's tsunami.

Dragonair, which had been serving Phuket three days a week, said it had no plans to resume regular flights.

"As demand for travel to Phuket continues to be low, scheduled services have been suspended indefinitely," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to serve the island with charter flights in response to market demand." Russell Barling
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Old June 24th, 2005, 07:19 PM   #1060
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Beggars can't be choosers - air talks must be put in perspective
24 June 2005
South China Morning Post

Murmurs around Government House are that Hong Kong negotiators have been pressing India to return to the table for more bilateral aviation talks after the last round earlier this year ended sharply just one day into the discussions.

Given the potential windfall for the local economy - from Hong Kong's retailers, who stand to gain from the growing number of affluent Indian travellers, to our airlines and airport community - the collapse of the last round was a big disappointment. It left both sides red-faced, for starkly different reasons.

But bilateral negotiations by nature are a constant work in progress and missed opportunities during previous rounds are soon overshadowed by any new deal.

There is an adage that numbers say what you want them to. When Hong Kong's aviation community looks at the volume of traffic on the Indian route last year - 233,000 travellers, up 50 per cent year on year - it sees growth.

Moreover, the airlines see growth that cannot be captured due to the limitations of the present agreement.

When India looks at those same numbers, they see a small market that is barely worth breaking a sweat over.

For Hong Kong, an India deal is a priority - perhaps second only to an expansion of the agreement with the mainland. If only the Indians saw it the same way.

For the Indian negotiating team, greater access to the Hong Kong market - or perhaps more importantly the ability to use Hong Kong as transit point to the United States - would be a small fillip for new carriers such as Jet Airways and Air Sahara. But it is not going to make or break them.

Jet Airways, for one, has already signalled intentions to fly direct from India to the US using Boeing's new extended range 777 aircraft.

India's established carriers, Air India and Indian Airlines, with the political influence to push the Indian side to the table, have yet to fully utilise rights won under the 2001 accord. They are largely content with the status quo.

Air India, which has four weekly frequencies to Hong Kong it does not use at present, has said that it will point its new long-range jets westwards for at least the next few years, towards its traditional bread and butter markets in the US and Europe.

So huff and puff as the Hong Kong technocrats might, it is unlikely India's senior negotiators, who left the truncated last round of talks with a bad taste in their mouths, will be persuaded back to the table any time soon.

The fact is Hong Kong is the side with the begging bowl in its hand, as has increasingly been the case since China started allowing more foreign carriers to fly direct to its major cities.

The decline of our gateway status is eroding our negotiating leverage and the comparative wish-lists of India and Hong Kong would appear to indicate that our bowl is too big to hide. So why try?

When the last round of talks collapsed on January 27, a senior government negotiator told Below Deck: "We asked for a lot more [destinations in India] and a lot more frequencies. We offered them anything they want, but they wouldn't agree."

Given that India appears to want and need very little from Hong Kong, perhaps a more measured approach is required next time.

According to sources close to the government, senior members of the Hong Kong team have expressed optimism that there will be a new round of talks this month or next.

Let's hope so. But given the acrimony surrounding the last break-up - and given that we do not have much to offer India - they may be well advised to take care of other businesses in the interim.

According to people close to the US negotiating team, the Economic Development and Labour Bureau last week turned down a request from Washington for a new round of bilateral discussions next month.

Let's hope the request was not turned down so Hong Kong could put to bed a deal with India first.
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