HKIA prepares for typhoons

Volunteers were evacuated from HKIA during the drill

In anticipation of the coming typhoon season, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) staged its annual exercise early on Friday to prepare for severe weather.

The drill, which involved more than 700 participants, simulated various weather-related contingency scenarios to test the airport’s response capabilities in crowd management, baggage handling, flight rescheduling and information dissemination.

“During times of inclement weather, airport operations will inevitably be affected. However, we can minimise the impact by thoroughly preparing not just ourselves, but also the airport community. Out of the 80-plus seminars, drills and exercises we conduct each year, 12 of them are directly related to weather preparedness. These scenarios allow the airport personnel to put their training into action,” said CK Ng, Executive Director of Airport Operations for the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK).

“Through these drills, we are also able to enhance cooperation and communication among AAHK, airlines, ground handling agents, government organisations and business partners. This is of utmost importance for maintaining a safe and secure airport, and for enhancing HKIA’s world-class passenger services,” he added.

The multi-scenario exercise began at about midnight when the airport community was informed of the approach of a fictional typhoon. A meteorological officer from the Hong Kong Observatory gave a weather update for the airport community on the typhoon as well as possible weather implications. The Airport Emergency Centre (AEC) was then activated to help coordinate flight changes and contingency plans for airlines, ramp handlers, public transport operators, catering outlets, retail shops and other potentially affected businesses. Typhoon information update was displayed in the Flight Information Display System to alert passengers of possible flight disruption. A preliminary assessment of the number of potentially affected flights was also made to facilitate early planning of resources and logistics for post-typhoon arrangements.

As the situation worsened within the scenario, more flights and passengers were affected. The Hong Kong Observatory issued a number-8 typhoon signal about an hour into the four-hour long exercise, when the AEC swung into action. In the meantime, airlines rescheduled their flights, while AAHK and the Civil Aviation Department worked with them to coordinate the revised scheduling.

At the passenger terminals, AAHK, police, airport security staff, airlines and ground handling agents jointly activated their crowd management contingency plans to provide assistance to passengers. Constant updates on the latest typhoon situation and flight information, airline hotlines, public transportation condition and more were provided. Designated areas were set up for affected passengers to reconfirm their bookings. Additional signage was placed and public announcements were made throughout the passenger terminal building.  Furthermore, St. John first-aiders were also deployed within the terminal building to offer assistance to passengers in case of medical emergencies.
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