Airport Slots at Hong Kong (VHHH) – Breaking updates impacting business aviation operators

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Update: October 5, 2018

Since this blog was published, the trial program that increases the number of slots for GA/BA operations at VHHH in the reduced night period between 1600-2059 UTC daily from four slots to six through the “Ask Us” function has been extended to March 31, 2019.

Does the thought of trying to obtain slots at Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH) make your head hurt? If so, you’re not alone. Over the last few years, few destinations have proven to be more challenging and add more operational risk and stress to business aviation operators than VHHH due to the high-traffic airport’s restrictive slot procedures for GA.

The good news is that some slight relief is on the way thanks to the persistent lobbying efforts of Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA). Read below for all you need to know about obtaining slots at VHHH, including the new changes.

1. NEW* VHHH night period slots for business aviation operations increased on trial basis

Effective Aug. 8, 2018, Airport Authority HK has implemented a new trial program that increases the number of slots for GA/BA operations at VHHH in the reduced night period between 1600-2059 UTC daily from four slots to six through the “Ask Us” function. The full night period (1400-2259 UTC) now has nine dedicated slots for GA/BA for aircraft on the exempted list for nighttime operations at HKIA.

The slots are available to all aircraft types not currently exempted from the Noise Quota Count Pilot Scheme. Currently, the increase is a trial only, originally set to end Oct. 7, 2018, the trial has now been extended to March 31, 2019. AsBAA is committed to continuing to work on operators’ behalf with the Airport Authority HK (AAHK) during the duration of the trial to hopefully make this a permanent solution. For full details of the trial, visit http://asbaa.org/asbaa-hong-kong-chapter-successfully-lobbies-additional-slots-hkia/.

2. VHHH slot requirements

VHHH mandates airport slots for all arrivals/departures. However, slot priority is always given first to scheduled commercial and then to cargo movements, leaving GA operators to compete for remaining available slots. GA slot availability continues to be difficult at VHHH, due to increasing scheduled commercial traffic. Going forward, we anticipate that the local slot situation might become even more challenging for GA.

3. Requesting slots

VHHH slot availability can be viewed online via a third party website, but this requires access permission. Trip support providers and handlers registered to use this site can obtain airport slots for you.

4. Current slot situation

Slots are available 24/7 at VHHH, but there are limitations to obtain slots for night hours, 1400-2259 UTC (2200-0659 local), due to noise considerations. Aircraft in good standing may obtain slots up to 14 days prior, but these requests are generally at the bottom of the priority list as priority is given to scheduled commercial traffic. While the slot situation varies day to day, there are often only a very limited amount of GA slots per day.

5. Penalties for misuse of slots

In the past, if an operator did not use an assigned slot, without canceling it in advance, or was substantially late in terms of approved slot time the trip support provider or handler who’d coordinated the slot was penalized. This all changed on Sept. 1, 2017, with a new “Tail Specific Penalty Scheme.” Under this new scheme the tail number itself, rather than the operator or the third party obtaining the slots, is penalized. This system is still under a trial basis for an unknown period. The authorities will continually review the outcome of these changes and communicate with the local community and AsBAA prior to making permanent regulatory changes.

6. New penalties – the finer points

Assorted penalties will be assigned to aircraft based on their misuse of slots at VHHH. For example, if you accumulate more than 20 penalty points during a particular calendar month, lead time to book future slots will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. Note that this shorter lead time for booking slots is only triggered if an aircraft has accumulated 20 penalty points or more during a particular calendar month. Operators may review their penalty folio, by tail number, via the Hong Kong Coordination Office (HKSCO) website.

7. Penalty point management

For example, if you accumulate 20 or more penalty points for a specific tail number during September, you’ll have the next month (in this case October) to explain your reasons to airport authorities. If authorities do not accept your reasoning as being valid, reduced slot lead times will impact your tail number as of November 1. This reduced lead time penalty will be in effect for one calendar month. If you do not rack up 20 or more penalty points during October your slot lead time will revert to the standard 14 days. Note that penalty points accrued for a particular tail number will remain on file for 12 months. The authorities will look at repeat offenders and work with the aircraft operators if significant misuse if found, which could lead to more severe penalties.

8. Tracking penalty points

Operator penalties are overseen and tracked by HKSCO. This agency monitors aircraft subject to reduced slot request times as well as operators blocked from obtaining slots.

Below you will find how the penalties will be allocated based on the infraction:

MisusePenalty Points
AOperation without confirmed runway slot or parking stand booking10
BFailure to operate without canceling the confirmed runway slot or parking stand booking5
COperation at a time significantly different from the confirmed runway slot1
DCancellation of confirmed runway slot or parking stand booking less than two days in advance of the aircraft confirmed slot time1
EAircraft overstaying1

9. Slot confirmation tips

Once you receive a VHHH slot confirmation, this must be forwarded to your local handler to confirm ground handling services. If your handler does not receive this confirmation, no handling or parking services will be set up. Note that it’s not necessary to put slot confirmations in your flight plan or to forward it to CAA with landing permit request.

Conclusion

The addition of two additional GA/BA slots at VHHH for the reduced night period program combined with allowing all aircraft to utilize them is an encouraging change from the usual story of fewer and fewer available GA slots, a common theme for GA globally. The continued enforcement of the airport’s slot penalty scheme may also help reduce the misuse of limited slots. Moving forward, the efforts of associations such as the AsBAA will continue to play an essential role in improving operating flexibility at VHHH.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Hong Kong, contact me at skalmeta@univ-wea.com.

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