Quiet planes get more slots at Hong Kong airport, a way to curb noise pollution

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Trial scheme focuses on non-environmentally friendly and noisy planes – instead of just restricting flights at night

Airlines in Hong Kong are being encouraged to use cleaner and quieter aircraft in return for the chance to operate more flights at night.

A trial is under way for airlines flying out of Hong Kong International Airport to phase out older planes, as such flights contribute to noise pollution – a serious issue at night for nearby residents.

As an incentive, compliance will be rewarded with opportunities to operate more late evening, overnight and early morning flights. The scheme looks to focus on the cause of pollution problems rather than restricting aircraft movements, aviation authorities say.

The trial has already been in effect since March, and is expected to see benefits towards the end of the year if the plan continues on a full-time basis.

“The overarching objective of the quota count scheme is to encourage airlines to use more environmentally friendly aircraft at Hong Kong’s airport,” a spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Department said.

Under the system, the noisier an aircraft the more points each flight accumulates. By switching to quieter planes fewer points are racked up.

Points go into a pool shared by all airlines, meaning they work together to minimise them and then each shares an equal chance of obtaining new night flight slots.

The scheme was inspired by an identical initiative in Britain.

Amid soaring demand and a lack of space for new daytime flights, the airport is shifting focus to night operations, with dozens of take-off and landing slots to be made available in coming years.

Hong Kong’s biggest airline, Cathay Pacific Airways, has moved to phase out older aircraft or swap noisier planes with the quieter and more fuel-efficient Airbus A350 on routes such as those to Auckland, Melbourne and Dusseldorf.

Hong Kong airport noise pollution
Hong Kong airport noise pollutions

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Quiet planes get more slots at Hong Kong airport, a way to curb noise pollution

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