Speedy security screening at Hong Kong’s airport is about to get even faster, but this will come with higher costs – likely to be borne by airlines, which will pass them onto passengers.
The Hong Kong International Airport is set to unveil a dedicated security channel for premium travellers, with the service also open to those with special needs and reduced mobility, those who are pregnant, the elderly and adults with infants, according to the Airport Authority, which operates the airport.
Industry sources have told the South China Morning Post that the airport will charge airlines HK$20 for just the premium passengers using the so-called “fast track” security service, to be officially launched in September.
Cathay Pacific Airways, Cathay Dragon and Hong Kong Airlines will also take part in a test run of the new facilities later this month. The three airlines said they welcomed “any initiative” that boosted the experience of passengers.
But a number of major international airlines told the Post they were not interested in signing up for the new service, noting that it did not include speedy immigration checks.
One prominent carrier felt it was being pressured to sign up, while another criticised the lack of details about the facility and the benefits for airlines.
Passengers currently pay a HK$45 security charge, and in the 2016 to 2017 financial year, 99 per cent of them queued for 4.5 minutes or less, according to the Airport Authority.
One major international airline based in the regions of Europe, Middle Easter and Africa welcomed the new fast-track security facility. “We try to standardise and have the same service around the world, including on the ground, but we don’t have that in Hong Kong, yet security is already very fast.”
But it also noted: “Every cost that comes on top of the ticket price for us, in the end, [will have to be charged to] the customer.”
Another airline from the region viewed the initiative with some cynicism, arguing that its introduction would mean an “additional source of revenue” for the airport which generated a profit of HK$8.3 billion last year.
An Airport Authority source said earnings from the fee paid by airlines for premium travellers using the fast-track security service would be able to cover the cost of allowing access to…