英文

Editorial:Another Fiasco at HK Airport Calls for Review

【明報專訊】Airport staff had to write flight boarding information by hand on whiteboards at one point during the flight information display system (FIDS) failure at Chek Lap Kok Airport on Sunday (23 June), which continued for the better part of the day before everything returned to normal.

The FIDS is a crucial system for an airport. It receives flight information from different systems, processes it, and then disseminates it to different users through a data transmission system. As the system malfunctioned at around 7 a.m. on Sunday, electronic screens at terminals, the airport's website and its mobile application all failed to update with the latest flight information.

On-site observations by reporters revealed that by around 3 p.m., the departure halls' flight information display screens had gradually resumed normal operations, with the gate numbers for about half of the flights being shown as usual. As for the arrival halls, however, flight information screens remained down. It was not until around 7 p.m. that all screens were fully restored to normal operations.

The Airport Authority apologised to the public for the incident, but emphasised that it had activated the emergency response centre and backup systems after discovering the malfunction of the display network system at 7 a.m. The Secretary for Transport has requested the Authority to investigate the cause of the incident and submit a report to the government.

In this day and age, locals and tourists rely heavily on electronic screens for flight and baggage information as they prepare to board a flight or pick others up at the airport. They understandably felt at a loss what to do when the system was suddenly down. Even though airport staff switched to methods such as making announcements over speakers and writing down information on whiteboards, some locals and visitors were still unable to receive boarding information in time due to the chaos at the scene, or because they were not attuned to the new arrangements.

Some travellers missed their flights as a result and were stranded at the airport. Others reported that the on-site instructions were unclear or that they could not hear the announcements. The Airport Authority has emphasised that during the system breakdown on Sunday, no flights were cancelled, and only a small number of flights were delayed. Such a response gives the impression that it is downplaying the serious impact and inconvenience towards some passengers.

Hong Kong is a tourist city, and the impression visitors have of its airport is extremely important. This is why the highest operational standards must be maintained there at all times to ensure a good experience for every traveller.

Last October, when Typhoon Koinu hit Hong Kong, the Airport Express service was suspended under typhoon signal number 9. Hundreds of travellers and locals were stranded at the airport, unable to catch a taxi despite having waited for hours. The Airport Authority was criticised for its lack of contingency plans to divert and support travellers in inclement weather. In the middle of this month, a cargo plane had a burst tyre while landing at Chek Lap Kok Airport, causing the north runway to be closed for over eight hours and delaying approximately 450 passenger flights. The Authority's post-incident handling was also deemed not swift enough.

The flight information display system malfunction this time has once again raised concern about the Airport Authority's ability to deal with incidents. Earnest evaluation is necessary to determine whether there are shortcomings in the Authority's crisis management.

明報社評 2024.06.25:機場甩轆又一宗 危機應變須檢討

赤鱲角機場航班資料顯示系統周日故障,持續大半天才全面恢復正常,機場人員一度要用白板手寫航班登機資訊。

航班資料顯示系統是機場的重要系統,它從各個系統接收航班資料並加以處理,然後通過數據傳輸系統,發布給不同使用者。航班資料顯示系統周日早上7時左右故障,無論是機場客運大樓的電子屏幕、網站及手機應用程式,均未能更新航班資料。

記者現場觀察,直至約下午3時,離境大堂的航班資料顯示屏幕,陸續恢復正常運作,約半航班如常顯示閘口號碼,惟接機大堂的抵港航班資料電子屏幕,仍未恢復正常運作;及至晚上7時許,所有顯示屏才完全恢復正常。

機管局就事件向公眾致歉,強調早上7時發現顯示網絡系統異常後,已啟動應變中心及後備系統。運輸局長則要求機管局調查事故原因,並向政府提交報告。

今時今日,市民和旅客出入機場,無論準備登機或接機,都非常依賴電子屏幕得悉航班或行李資訊,系統突然失靈,難免感到徬徨;即使故障發生後,機場人員改以公開廣播、白板手寫等方法公布資訊,惟總有市民和旅客因為現場混亂或不習慣,未能及時接收登機資料。

有旅客便因此錯過航班被迫滯留,也有旅客表示,現場指示不夠清晰,又或聽不到廣播。機管局強調,周日故障期間,沒有航班取消,只有小量航班延誤,予人觀感是淡化事件對部分旅客所造成的嚴重影響和困擾。

香港作為旅遊城市,旅客對機場的印象相當重要,這亦是為何機場運作必須時刻保持最高水平,確保每名旅客都有良好體驗。

去年10月颱風「小犬」襲港,9號風球下機場快線停駛,成百上千旅客市民滯留機場,苦候數小時等不到的士,機管局缺乏惡劣天氣下疏導及支援旅客的方案,惹人詬病;本月中,有貨機在赤鱲角機場降落時爆胎,導致北跑道暫停運作逾8小時,累計約450班客機延誤,當局善後工作,亦嫌不夠迅速。

今次航班資料顯示系統故障,再次令人關注機管局面對突發事故的應變能力,危機管理是否有不足之處,需要認真檢視。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

the better part of (sth):most of sth, especially a period of time; more than half of sth

at a loss:not knowing what to say or do

attuned (to sb/sth) /əˈtjuːnd/:familiar with sb/sth so that you can understand or recognise them or it and act in an appropriate way

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