Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Pilots ignored air traffic control to avoid collision
|Staff Reporter |
Updated on Jun 25, 2011
|A packed Cathay Pacific jet and a Virgin Blue plane were within 19 kilometres of each other over Australia's Northern Territory when their pilots ignored faulty air traffic control instructions and took decisive actions to narrowly avoid a disaster, an official investigation revealed yesterday.|
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's inquiry into the incident - involving a Melbourne-bound Airbus A330 carrying 309 passengers, and a Virgin Blue Boeing 737 with 120 passengers on board - singled out an "inadequately equipped" traffic controller for blame. The report said the controller first put the flights on a collision path and then failed to take corrective measures when the pilots alerted him to the danger.
Recognising the dire situation, the pilots on both planes ignored air traffic control instructions and swerved to their right to avoid a head-on collision. Pilots are allowed to ignore instructions from ground control only when faced with an emergency.
The report noted that the traffic controller was allowed to shorten a mandatory training course because of his previous experience with the Royal Australian Air Force, raising questions about whether such exemptions should have been given to former military servicemen.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
No cash? Pay taxi fares by flashing the plastic
Updated on Jun 24, 2011
After a six-month trial, passengers will be able to pay their fares by credit card in at least 600 of Hong Kong's 18,000 cabs by the end of the year.
And the method is expected to become universal - even though drivers still prefer to be paid in cash.
Autotoll, Dah Sing Bank and Visa announced yesterday the launch of a new phase in implementing what they call the autoTAXI system.
Users of Visa payWave cards will be able to swipe their cards against a reader, much as an Octopus card is used on other forms of transport.
No signature will be required for fares of less than HK$500.
Normal Visa cards can also be used by inserting the card into a reader or swiping against the terminal.
Daniel Lai Man-keung, a driver who took part in the six-month trial, said he was pleased with the new system and said it had led to an increase in passengers. But not all drivers are as optimistic. The Urban Taxi Driver Association Joint Committee interviewed more than 1,000 drivers last year and almost all were opposed to a credit card system.
They said it would cause unnecessary hassle and lead to increased expenses. Also, they could lose cash because it would affect their practice of rounding up fares by up to 50 cents and pocketing the extra change.
A report in 2008 showed the practice could be worth, in total, more than HK$2 million a year to drivers.
Driver Lau Chung-ki said: "We want our money now and don't like it wired to us on the next business day."
And passenger Gary Bradshaw, 43 said: "I take a taxi when I need it. The payment method carries no weight in my decision-making."
But Tong Yeuk-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association, said he expected the payment system to become universal once passengers started choosing credit card-enabled taxis.
The taxi committee said it had ceased talks on a deal with Octopus.
Shake-up for juvenile law after sex case
Reforms to be implemented as soon as possible after teenager sentenced for 'disgusting' assault on a five-year-old in hospital's children's ward
|Simpson Cheung and Martin Wong|
Updated on Jun 24, 2011
Hong Kong is preparing a landmark change in its laws that will make it possible for children under the age of 14 to be charged with rape.
The move comes after a magistrate yesterday described existing laws on juveniles and serious sex offences as "wholly and manifestly inadequate" as she sentenced a 13-year-old boy to a reformatory for a "disgusting" sexual attack on a five-year-old girl in a hospital ward.
In general, criminal liability in Hong Kong starts at the age of 10. However, at present there is a legal presumption that a boy under 14 is incapable of sexual intercourse.
Following a recommendation by the Law Reform Commission, that presumption will now be abolished.
Magistrate Adriana Tse, sitting in Eastern District's juvenile court, sentenced the boy to an unspecified term for indecent assault. She also called for a review of which courts should deal with children accused of serious sex offences and said boys and girls should be placed in different hospital wards.
Tse said she understood that rehabilitation was the main aim of the laws dealing with juveniles, but added: "[Now], youngsters are capable of the most heinous crimes."
In response to questions about Tse's comments, a spokesman for the Security Bureau said: "The Security Bureau is working with the Department of Justice on arrangements for amending the legislation with a view to implementing the recommendation of the Law Reform Commission as soon as possible."
The girl was molested in the children's ward of Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in September. Her parents reported the attack to police. A medical report submitted at an earlier court hearing detailed injuries that did not rule out the possibility she had been raped.
Sentencing the boy, Tse said: "I am disgusted by this case." She said she found it shocking that boys and girls were put in the same ward until the age of 18.
"It is well known that teenagers begin to be curious with sex."
The magistrate said the boy had smirked and smiled when he talked to a probation officer and, while on bail, had committed another, less serious offence. She did not accept a mitigation report that the boy - from another Asian country - was remorseful and helpless in a new culture. "You just do whatever you like ... reform school is the only option there," she said.
The boy, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, kept his head bowed throughout the proceedings.
Last year's Law Reform Commission report highlighted the present case, stating that the boy had been charged with indecent assault as the current presumption prevented his being charged with rape.
Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital said a review on putting boys and girls in the same ward was conducted immediately after the incident. "According to clinical and practical needs, boys and girls will be arranged in different wards as far as possible," a spokesman said, Nursing staff would also closely monitor the situation in the wards.
Law Society criminal law and procedure committee chairman Stephen Hung Wan-shun said: "The priority in sentencing any young offenders aged under 16 is rehabilitation. No matter in which court the trial of the boy takes place ... rehabilitation is still the main objective. Unless there is no other alternative, it is unlikely he will be thrown into jail."
Lower age limit for sex offenders, urges magistrate
|Lai Ying-kit |
Updated on Jun 23, 2011
A magistrate on Thursday called for tougher sentences for boys who commit sexual offences â" saying Hong Kong's current criminal law was inadequate to deal with such cases.
Magistrate Adriana Tse made the comments after sentencing a 13-year-old Korean boy to an unspecified term at a reformatory school for indecently assaulting a five-year-old girl in a hospital ward they were occupying.
The Eastern Juvenile Court earlier heard that the boy pulled off the girl's pants and then molested her when they were in the children's ward at Pamela Youde Eastern Hospital in September last year. The girl's parents later reported the incident to police.
The magistrate said she was "disgusted" by the boy's crime and that he had had been aware of the seriousness of his actions when he committed it.
She also said the punishment was inadequate because, due to limitations in the law, boys of his age could only be charged with indecent assault, despite the fact the girl had been raped.
Under present criminal law in Hong Kong, boys under the age of 14 cannot be charged with rape because the statutes presume they are physically incapable of sexual intercourse.
After the case came to light last year, the government-appointed Law Reform Commission suggested a change in the law that would see the charge of rape applicable to boys the age 10 and above.
The magistrate urged the government to revise the law by lowering this age limit. She noted there had been a number of similar cases involving young boys in recent years in Hong Kong.
Tse also suggested hospitals consider placing boys and girls in separate wards.
"I find it shocking that patients of different sexes are put together until the age of 18, but it is well known that teenagers begin to be curious with sex [before then]," she said.
Number of HK millionaires jumps 33pc
|Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong|
Updated on Jun 23, 2011
The number of millionaires in Asia-Pacific has jumped sharply to overtake Europe, a study said on Thursday â" driven by the fast-rising super-rich population of Hong Kong.
Millionaires in Asia-Pacific became worth more collectively than their counterparts in Europe in 2009, but there are also now more of them, at 3.3 million in the region, versus 3.1 million in Europe.
The report on high-net worth individuals (HNWIs) â" defined as anyone with investable assets of at least US$1 million â" was issued by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and consultancy firm Capgemini.
"Asia-Pacific's continued strong performance cements the region's strategic importance to every wealth management firm with global aspirations," said Michael Benz, Asia-Pacific head of Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.
"Now the world's second-biggest HNWI market in terms of population and wealth, it is more pertinent than ever for the wealth management industry to keep enhancing their service to this diverse region," he added.
The region is now second to North America, with 3.4 million millionaires.
The growth in Asia was led by the number of millionaires in Hong Kong, which grew 33.3 per cent last year to 101,300 people, compared with 76,000 in 2009 â" the second straight year in which the city's super-rich population grew the most.
The rocketing number of millionaires in Hong Kong was due to a healthy economy as well as gains in the equities and real estate markets, said the report.
The report also noted the fast growth of Indian millionaires, where India's HNWI population became the world's twelfth largest last year, its highest every placing.
Asia, which has emerged quickly from the global recession, has produced some of the world's richest people including India's business tycoon Mukesh Ambani and Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing, nicknamed "Superman" for his business prowess.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
At least 44 killed in Russian plane crash
|Reuters in Besovets |
Updated on Jun 21, 2011
At least 44 people were killed when a passenger plane broke up and caught fire on coming into land in heavy fog in north-western Russia, an Emergency Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
The Tupolev-134 plane, carrying 52 people including nine crew, crashed near a road about 1km from the runway at the Besovets airport outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk about 11.40pm local time on Monday (3.40am HK time on Tuesday).
"The preliminary information is that 44 people were killed," spokeswoman Irina Andriyanova said by telephone. "Eight people were injured and seven of them are in a very grave condition."
The www.lifenews.ru Internet news website, which posted a full list of the passengers, said a 10-year-old boy named Anton had survived the crash but gave no details about his condition.
"We took a child to the local hospital â" the child was in a very grave condition," a medical worker told a local television crew at the scene. She said a total of five people were taken to hospital.
A video made by a witness on her mobile phone, and filmed by the television crew, showed flames soaring from the wreckage into the night sky near where the plane crashed, in the region of Kareliya about 700km north-west of Moscow.
"Everything was on fire," a witness who declined to give his name told the television crew. A photographer at the scene saw charred wreckage from the plane and dozens of emergency workers and firemen.
The crash comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to attend.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has swapped his Tupolev for a French-made executive jet, in April criticised flaws in domestically-built planes and the nation's poor safety record.
One of the most high-profile Tupolev air disasters in recent times occurred in April last year when Polish President Lech Kaczynski's official Tupolev Tu-154 plane crashed near Smolensk airport in western Russia, killing 96 people including Kaczynski, his wife and a large number of senior officials.
The Tu-134 plane that crashed was operated by the private company RusAir and was travelling from Moscow's Domodedovo airport. RusAir, which specialises in charter flights, declined immediate comment.
Most of the passengers were Russian but a Swedish national was also on the aircraft, Interfax news agency said.
The Tuploev-134 is a Soviet aircraft whose maiden flight was in 1967. It was unclear when the plane which crashed was made.
The aircraft's black boxes have been recovered.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
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S Korean soldiers fire on airliner
Investigations begin after two Marine Corps troops shoot 99 rounds from their automatic rifles at an Asiana passenger jet from China descending to Seoul
|Greg Torode and Agencies|
Updated on Jun 19, 2011
Investigations are under way into how two South Korean soldiers came to open fire on a passenger jet from China approaching Seoul on Friday morning, reportedly mistaking it for an invading North Korean plane.
South Korea's Marine Corps and Asiana Airlines confirmed the incident, which saw the soldiers fire 99 rounds from their K-2 automatic rifles as the plane descended towards Incheon airport on a flight from Chengdu soon after 4am. No bullets hit the Airbus A320, which was carrying 119 passengers.
The incident comes amid rising tensions between North and South Korea, with Seoul deploying missiles on its fortified border capable of striking Pyongyang and the North scrapping all contacts with the government in Seoul. The two countries have remained technically at war since the Korean conflict ended with an armistice in 1953.
The soldiers were based at a guard post on Gyodong Island, 1.7 kilometres south of the North Korean coast. The plane was flying southeast over Jumun Island, 12 kilometres to the south - a route used by 600 aircraft per day - when the soldiers opened fire.
"The firing continued for about 10 minutes but the plane was too far off the rifles' range and it did not receive any damage," an unnamed Marine Corps official told South Korea's Yonhap news agency. "When the plane appeared over Jumun Island, soldiers mistook it as a North Korean military aircraft and fired."
Air traffic controllers reported that the plane was on a normal course at the time.
Asiana spokesman Jason Kim confirmed the Marine Corps had opened fire after misidentifying the plane. Hong Kong Asiana officials could not be reached for comment last night but flights to and from Seoul were operating normally. Fourteen scheduled return flights operate between Hong Kong and Seoul each week.
South Korean Defence Ministry officials have yet to comment. But the Yonhap news agency said the soldiers gave an initial report 10 minutes after the incident. It is not known if any action will be taken against them.
The incident comes three months after Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin told frontline troops that if North Koreans attack, they must strike back immediately without waiting for orders from top commanders. "Don't ask your commanders whether to fire back or not. Take actions first and then report afterwards," Kim was quoted as saying in March.
The South remains on heightened alert after two deadly attacks by the North last year. In March, 46 South Korean sailors were killed when a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean naval ship - an attack still denied by Pyongyang. And four people died in November when several barrages of North Korean artillery shells slammed into a township on the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, Associated Press
Saturday, June 18, 2011
HOS may be renewed after warning
Tsang said to be rethinking the mothballed subsidised scheme after visiting Beijing leader sounds caution
|Fanny W. Y. Fung|
Updated on Jun 19, 2011
The government is under growing pressure to resume building Home Ownership Scheme flats after Beijing's Hong Kong affairs chief warned openly that the shortage of housing for people in need could turn into a political problem.
Wang Guangya , director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), singled out housing as an urgent issue on which the government should take action during his duty visit to the city last week.
Since then, local officials have been sending out signals of forthcoming measures, with the revival of the HOS an option. Under the old scheme, the government built flats for sale at subsidised prices to families priced out of the private market.
Yesterday, two Chinese-language newspapers, Hong Kong Economic Times and Apple Daily, cited unnamed government officials as telling them that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was seriously considering resuming the scheme - a proposal that major political parties and even some Executive Council members have been pushing for.
The reports were in line with Tsang's remarks at a Legislative Council question-and-answer session last month, in which he said the government would study the proposal and lay out initiatives to help people acquire homes in his final policy address in October.
Asked whether the government would resume construction of HOS flats, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said: "I believe Mr Tsang will give an answer later."
Donald Tsang, who is on a nine-day duty visit in Australia that ends on Thursday, said on television there last Friday that home prices in Hong Kong were "quite frightening" and pledged his administration would do more to slow the market down.
A government spokesman noted that the chief executive had promised to deal with the housing issue in his upcoming policy address, but said: "This must be considered along with problems with land supply."
Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, a member of the Housing Society who supports the revival of the HOS, said the idea had not been put onto the society's agenda.
"Don't expect too much," he said. "It can well be Donald Tsang's gesture to boost his popularity before his term ends. We haven't even found all the sites for the My Home Purchase Plan since its announcement last year. How can the present government relaunch the HOS in a year's time? It takes years and you don't know if the next chief executive will support the HOS."
The Democratic Party threatened to move a motion of no confidence in Tsang if he did not announce in the policy address a resumption in building HOS flats. "This will be one of our major demands in the July 1march," said Lee Wing-tat, chairman of the Legco housing panel. "If the administration continues to ignore people's voices, public anger will grow. It is Donald Tsang's last chance."
The panel's deputy chairman, Wong Kwok-hing, said he hoped the government would announce the revival of the HOS as soon as possible. He referred to Wang's comment that Macau was moving faster in building affordable housing. "Wang's remarks have certainly given the chief executive some pressure. It is very rare for the HKMAO to compare Hong Kong openly with Macau."
The 26-year scheme ended in 2002 to reverse a property slump.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Tax blow for HK staff on mainland
With foreign employees having to pay into a social security fund from July 1, industry chiefs fear the extra burden will force out thousands of companies
|Mimi Lau in Guangzhou and Denise Tsang|
Updated on Jun 04, 2011
A policy that requires overseas employees on the mainland to pay up to 22 per cent of their wages into the country's social security fund threatens to drive thousands of companies and professionals out of business.
The deputy chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, described it yesterday as the last straw for manufacturers already struggling with rising prices, soaring wage bills, a strong yuan and chronic power and labour shortages.
It comes into effect on July 1.
"If manufacturers are lucky, they may be able to pass some of the extra costs to customers," Lau said, but it would be survival of the fittest.
Under the Social Insurance Law passed last October, all overseas people who have worked on the mainland for more than six months will have to pay social security insurance.
While details of the regulations are still being worked out, officials have made it clear that only foreign nationals whose countries have signed bilateral social insurance agreements with the mainland will be exempted. Only Germany and South Korea have signed such treaties with Beijing. Hong Kong has no such arrangement and to do so would require the city to change its Mandatory Provident Fund policy to exclude mainland workers.
A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said it was not responsible for negotiating such an agreement and had no idea which department would handle such a task.
Alex Fong Chi-wai, chief executive of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, said it had submitted its members' concerns to the mainland authorities but had not received a reply.
The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce said it was consulting members for their opinions.
"If the law is broadly applied, this will raise the operation costs of all foreign nationals, including Hong Kong people working on the mainland," Fong said. "We hope the regulation will contain a special waiver."
The new law was formulated six years ago as Beijing took steps to establish a social security network. It was first tested in Guangdong on a voluntary basis. Now Beijing wants to make it compulsory and extend it to the rest of the country.
It is estimated there are 600,000 foreign workers on the mainland. This does not include the 200,000 Hongkongers.
Anyone evading the payment risks a hefty fine of up to three times the due contributions.
Overseas workers would be eligible for payments after contributing to the scheme for over 15 years. They could also arrange for their children to inherit their pension accounts
Alex Pun Wing-kit, a 31-year-old civil engineer from Hong Kong who will be posted to Nanjing in November, said the new policy would force him to rethink his job.
"I'm not happy to see a significant portion taken out of my pocket after already contributing to Hong Kong's retirement pension. It's unlikely that I will work on the mainland permanently. I don't know when and how much I am getting back in return after all of the money is taken out," Pun said.
"I'd seriously look into staying in Hong Kong if I have to bear the extra social security burden myself."
It will be employers, however, who will bear the brunt of the new law with contributions for their overseas employees on the mainland. In some cases it could amount to 40 per cent of workers' salaries.
David Hui Cheung-wing, who runs factories in Guangdong, said that since 2005 they had already been asked to pay the equivalent of 20 per cent of their Hong Kong workers' monthly salaries into local social security funds. He said politicians in the city seemed to know little about it.
"About a year ago, I asked Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai [NPC Standing Committee member] about the rule, and she said it had not been passed yet," Hui said. "But authorities have been charging me for years. This is puzzling."
Hui said he had to pay an additional HK$1.2 million a month for the insurance funds.
Many employers are expected to transfer the extra costs to their employees, possibly leading to more labour strife and office rebellions.
Tsui Li, managing director of a Hong Kong-based logistics firm with six branches on the mainland and two Japanese staff working in its Shanghai office, said the new regulation would significantly drive up operational costs.
"I'm quite angry to hear this as no concrete details have been released, except one line of ambiguous regulation," said Tsui, whose company had tried preparing for the law six months ago but was unsure where to start.
"I'm quite angry to hear this. Mainland government officials are shifting the responsibility of providing social security for its people to corporations. It is not fair for businesses to shoulder that much."
She said her foreign staff would not be able to make use of local public medical services anyway even after contributing to social insurance due to language barriers.
"With the law coming into effect at such short notice, we are worried that the work visas of our foreign staff might not be extended all of a sudden after July."
Joe Leung Cho-bun, professor of social administration at The University of Hong Kong, said the mainland's pension rate was one of the highest in the world and it was a concern that the system was solely operated by the government without an independent monitoring body.
He said other jurisdictions around the world, such as the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong, required foreign workers to contribute to social insurance or retirement provident funds.
But Leung said the system on the mainland was extremely complicated and also lacked transparency. "Contributions made by corporations and the labour force today are being pooled to subsidise retiring workers. The government may run out of money to cover workers' retirement pensions in the future."
But the mainland authorities regard the new law as a move to help foreign workers there.
Lu Xuejing , a social security expert at Capital University of Economics and Business, told China Daily that although the government's move would increase the burden on employers, bosses should take the chance to realise that it was their responsibility to pay social security for everyone they employed, no matter where they were from.
Lu said the rule would also help foreign workers from developing countries who were not covered by expatriate packages to access subsidised local medical services.
Additional reporting by Adrian Wan
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Stuck in peak-hour traffic? Just call out 'giddyup'
|Priscilla Jiao |
Updated on Jun 03, 2011
More than 1,500 people in 19 mainland cities will ride horses to work over the next week to mark World Environment Day on Sunday.
The participants will saddle up for their morning's commuting along planned routes in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin , Hangzhou , Chengdu and Qingdao .
Wu Gangfang , founder of the Horseman Union website and publicity director of the Chinese Equestrian Association, said it was a good way to get through heavy traffic in rush hours. "We're not trying to convince people to ride horses every day," Wu said. "We're simply trying to spread an environmentally friendly concept and another way of healthy living at a time when many people suffer health problems from working long hours and from a lack of exercise."
There was no law forbidding people from riding horses on public roads. "The horses have been very well trained and won't get nervous if they hear cars honking," he said.
One of the participants, Shou Mingyu , 43, an employee at a local TV station in Zhuji , Zhejiang , said he has been riding his horse on city roads for four years.
"I ride my horse, an Inner Mongolian breed, two or three times a week when I go to work, visit friends and dine in restaurants," he said. "It's convenient and quicker than being stuck in a traffic jam." And he did not have to worry about drink-driving after dining with his friends.
Chang Youde , species programme officer at the WWF's Beijing office, said it was a fresh idea to raise public awareness about a low-carbon lifestyle. "But in practice it might be quite unrealistic," Chang said, "as some of the riders may have to go through city centres where traffic is already very chaotic."
Plans for airport expansion unveiled
Airport Authority to consult public on third runway
|Lai Ying-kit and Reuters|
Updated on Jun 02, 2011
The Airport Authority said on Thursday it would consult the public on its Airport Master Plan for Chek Lap Kok â" a blueprint that includes an option to add a third runway.
In the 20-year development schedule, the authority said a third runway could enable Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to maintain the city's position as a leading global aviation hub beyond 2030.
It said air traffic demand had been increasing on the back of strong economic growth in Asia. Hong Kong therefore had to find ways to increase the capacity of the airport â" because current facilities were expected to be saturated by 2020.
The authority said building a new runway would cost about HK$136.2 billion. The project would involve reclamation of about 650 hectares of land, along with building a new terminal, and airfield and facilities to service the new runway. The cost of this was estimated at HK$86.2 billion last year.
The authority said the cost difference had arisen because the latest estimates took inflation projections into account.
Authority statistics show around 307,000 flights used the airport in 2010, carrying 50.9 billion passengers and 4.1 million tonnes of cargo.
The plan would enable the airport to handle a maximum of 620,000 flights a year, and meet forecast annual passenger and cargo throughput of about 97 million and 8.9 million tonnes, respectively, the authority said.
Another option included in the plan would be to upgrade the airport's existing two runways, at a cost of HK$42.5 billion, to meet projected demand in the medium term.
This approach would allow the airport to handle 420,000 flights a year, with annual passenger and cargo throughput increased to 74 million and six million tonnes, respectively, the authority said.
Authority chairman Marvin Cheung Kin-tung said the expansion was linked to the continued development of Hong Kong as a thriving financial centre.
"With Asia Pacific â" and in particular the mainland â" increasingly driving global and regional economic growth, air traffic demand has been experiencing strong growth in the past decade," he said.
"The current two-runway system is forecast to be saturated by around 2020, and beyond that, HKIA will not be able to meet additional demand. This could irrevocably harm Hong Kong's position as a global aviation hub," he said.
A three-month public consultation would begin on Friday, the authority said.
Hong Kong became the world's busiest cargo hub last year, overtaking Memphis in the US. This was on the back of strong growth in the mainland, especially in the Pearl River Delta region.
The airport ranked third worldwide in numbers of international passengers flown last year, after London and Paris, aviation industry statistics showed.