Chief Executive calls for improvement in airport backup system after computer failure

John Lee

25th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) During a press conference before the Executive Council meeting today, Chief Executive John Lee addressed the recent computer failure at Hong Kong International Airport. The incident, which occurred on Sunday, affected the flight display system, resulting in the use of manual whiteboards to convey flight information. Rock Chen, a member of the Airport Authority Board and a Legislative Council member, revealed that the backup systems in place did not immediately replace the functionality of the original system, making this issue a focal point during the press conference.

During the briefing, Chief Executive John Lee announced that he would lead a delegation from the Special Administrative Region to Guangzhou on the 27th to attend the 24th Plenary of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference. The delegation includes several department heads. Lee emphasised the comprehensive collaboration between Guangdong and Hong Kong, highlighting the fruitful achievements of various initiatives in the Greater Bay Area, He stated that the Greater Bay Area is one of the most vibrant regions for international economic activities, accounting for less than 1% of the country’s land area but generating 9% of its economic output, potentially becoming the leading bay area among the four in the future.

Lee explained that the goal of the meeting is to build upon past achievements and outline future plans, particularly in areas such as technological innovation, healthcare, and finance, to deepen cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong. He emphasised that Hong Kong is actively strengthening its partnerships with provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions, fostering high-quality development. Hong Kong has established cooperation mechanisms with Guangdong, Fujian, Hubei, Beijing, Shanghai, and Sichuan, and maintains open communication through its liaison offices in mainland China. Lee mentioned that the Supervision Group for Integration into the National Development Plan will enhance collaboration with the mainland, leveraging Hong Kong’s role as a super-connector and value-added contributor to foster the development of new productive forces.

Regarding the airport computer failure incident, Rock Chen described it as an unfortunate and unexpected event that should be prevented from recurring. According to management reports, the backup system was immediately activated after the incident; however, it was unable to seamlessly replace the original system’s functions, which will be further addressed by the board. Chen estimated that the number of affected passengers was minimal and suggested that appropriate compensations could be provided.

Chen also stated that the management discovered the issue around 7 a.m. on the previous day and promptly activated the backup system, notifying airlines and using whiteboards to inform passengers. He pointed out that the ideal backup system should seamlessly take over without any noticeable disruptions, but it was unable to do so immediately after activation. He expressed concerns about the emergency response from the Airport Authority and the reasons for the system’s failure to seamlessly take over, stating that there are currently no answers available.