Hong Kong has reiterated its commitment to expanding commercial helicopter and air taxi services to and from the Chinese mainland, even as current facilities remain underserved amid the pandemic.
Responding to a lawmaker’s question in the Hong Kong legislative council, secretary for transport and housing Frank Chan says a feasibility study – conducted by Shenzhen agencies – on setting up more take-off and landing points in Hong Kong and Guangdong is underway and is expected to wrap up this year.
The study paves the way for the provision of “cross-boundary commercial helicopter services” – including for future air taxi services – across cities located in the Greater Bay Area, says Chan.
“The specific development of cross-boundary helicopter services will hinge on market demand and the commercial considerations of helicopter operators. Since 2019, various Mainland helicopter operators conducted trial flights between Hong Kong and Shenzhen/Guangzhou. Relevant services are technically and operationally feasible,” the secretary adds.
Cross-boundary helicopter services currently take off from the Sky Shuttle heliport in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island.
Chan told the council that the heliport recorded about 9,000 movements in pre-pandemic 2019, far below the 50,000 movement per year it is designed to handle. He did not disclose how many movements were recorded during the two years of the pandemic, when Hong Kong’s international borders were largely sealed off.
Chan says: “The heliport still has ample capacity, and will suffice in meeting the market demand for cross-boundary helicopter services between Hong Kong and other places in the [Greater Bay Area] in the coming years.”
Hong Kong is also looking build a third heliport at the old Kai Tak airport, though Chan stresses it would depend on “the future development of and market demand for cross-boundary helicopter services”.
“Developing cross-boundary commercial helicopter services can provide a point-to-point air transport service with greater flexibility, [similar to air taxi services], for high-end travellers to complement the prevailing transport network within the [Greater Bay Area], further enhancing the internationalised business environment in the [Greater Bay Area],” the secretary adds.