Even with the protests in Hong Kong that have garnered headlines since June, business aviation travel there has not been drastically affected, according to the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre (HKBAC), the lone FBO on the field, which has seen only minimal erosion.
“Surprisingly, our movements haven’t changed much, and I can say it’s business as usual,” said Minnie Kan, the company’s head of business development. She told BJT that the facility saw double-digit growth last year over 2017, and that this past August, during the height of the unrest, which saw the airport actually shut down for a day due to protests, business aviation traffic (which makes up better-than 90 percent of HKBAC’s clientele) was up year-over-year for the month. “We found that the government and airport authority found ways to maintain the smooth operation of the airport and indeed they keep in very close communication with the stakeholders,” said Kan.
She attributes an overall decline in the region’s business aviation traffic to economic worries. “It dropped a lot in some Chinese cities because of the economic downturn or the China-U.S. trade war tensions, but in Hong Kong, we maintained the level of 2018,” Kan said. “The demand is still there, and they still try to get the slots that they want.”
She added that discussions and coordination between the government, the airport, and Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department have resulted in additional slot allocations for business aviation flights. They can be requested through HKBAC Connect, the FBO’s online ordering system where customers can place their flight-handling requests, including desired fuel uplift. An enhanced application, which will debut next year, will provide customers with instant flight-status information, such as about the arrival of crew and passengers, as well as their baggage, to the terminal. Such information would be of use to operators and executives’ personal assistants. “Instead of passively waiting for our stakeholders or clients to call in, we would like to be more proactive to provide this information to them,” said Charise Shek, HKBAC’s head of customer service.