Following months of disruption in Hong Kong due to anti-government protests and then the coronavirus outbreak, the airport has decided to relax its “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for slots until the end of October 2020. This means airlines are allowed to keep their slots even if they don’t use them.
The decision follows calls for a relaxation of the policy to prevent carriers from flying empty planes between destinations to maintain the rights.
“Given the latest development of Covid-19, and in line with the recommendation made by IATA, it has been decided that alleviation of slot usage requirement at Hong Kong International Airport will be effective for the whole of the Summer 2020 Season,” a Civil Aviation Department spokeswoman said.
This means the airlines (particularly Cathay Pacific!) will now be able to announce cuts to their schedules through to October this year. So, good news for them, but also good news for GA/BA operators, as the overall reduction in traffic will mean that a lot more slots will now become available.
Since Oct 2018, Hong Kong Airport has been providing six slots to GA/BA each night between 1600-2059z, which you can apply for up to 14 days in advance online using the OCS system. You can also use the system to request any unused or cancelled daytime slots up to 2 days in advance. Getting your own access to this system can be a pain – but your trip support provider or local handler should have access, and can obtain airport slots for you.
So it appears that ops to Hong Kong are getting easier for GA/BA – although it’s still a tricky game. It remains the world’s third busiest airport, and congestion continues to be an issue.
You still need all of the following to be confirmed in advance: landing permit, parking, ground handling, and slots. All of these need to be applied for individually. We recommend applying in this order:
This can be done whenever, but should probably be done first.
Parking is confirmed on a first-come-first-served basis, and can be applied for up to 30 days in advance. Ultimately, the earlier you apply the better. However, parking requests for 5 days or more can sometimes be rejected, and overnight parking is often denied during busy periods. If this happens, unfortunately the best strategy is still to just keep making new applications until you get accepted! Once your parking is approved, you’ll receive a confirmation, and this must be given to your ground handler.
There are plenty of agents and handlers at VHHH, but only one dedicated FBO for BA/GA flights:
Applications will only be considered 14 days prior to flight (unless you’re applying for a last-minute cancelled or unused slot). Authorities monitor the slot system for intentional misuse – which could lead to operators being banned from using the system altogether. Other violations include any cancellations of outbound flights less than 72 hours before departure, and delays on the day by more than 2 hours – although any off-slot operations outside a tolerance of +/-20 minutes can still flag up for potential slot misuse.
Hong Kong Schedule Coordination Office (HKSCO)
Phone: +852 2910 6898
Other things worth knowing:
- Feb 2020: Revised ILS approach procedures for RWY 07L and RWY 07R based on PBN transition to connect the existing PBN STARs to ILS final for RWY 07L and RWY 07R without reliance on ground-based navigation aids guidance.
- Jan 2020: A reminder that ramp checks can be carried out at any time, with no warning. Here’s what they check for.
- Feb 2019: Hong Kong ATC started reducing separation from 3.5 NM to 3.0 NM – that means more chance of wake turbulence. In summary, the new advice is this: do NOT slow to less than 125kts on final approach speed to ensure that following traffic does not have to execute a go-around; and when landing on RWY 07L, make sure you get off the runway at taxiway A7 within 50 seconds.
- Dec 2018: Hong Kong published an AIC saying that GA/BA aircraft are taking too long vacating the runway after landing. They want pilots to “consider minimizing braking to reduce the deceleration rate on the landing roll so as to be able to vacate runway expeditiously via the first available RET.”
- Oct 2018: Following lobbying by AsBAA, the trial to increase the number of night-time slots available to GA/BA was extended until the end of March 2019, with 6 slots available instead of 4 as before.
- Sep 2018: Chinese authorities launched the Bullet Train rail link between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Travel time between the two cities is now approximately only 40 minutes (previously crews needed to take a ferry, or else face a long car journey!)
- Jun 2018: Airport issued Notam A1792/18 prohibiting reduced or single engine taxi out – all engines must be started before commencement of taxi for takeoff.
- Jun 2018: Hong Kong issued AIC 13/18 to remind operators to stick closely to ILS procedures for Runway 07/25.
- Apr 2016: You now need RNP1 to operate to Hong Kong.