There was a slight interruption to departures during the hour-long malfunction in the new air traffic control system on Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson from the Civil Aviation Department said on Tuesday.

In addition to a glitch in the Tower Electronic Flight Strip (TEFS) System, which provides flight plan data for departures and arrivals to air traffic control officers, the delay was caused by changing wind directions, which prompted a runway change.

“According to the international standards, flight departure has [sic] to be temporarily suspended during a runway change,” the press release read. “Nevertheless, flight movements at the Hong Kong International Airport were generally normal.”

Departure gates of the Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: GovHK.

This comment came after the department published a press release claiming that no flights were affected during the incident.

Speaking to Ming Pao Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a pilot and a lawmaker of Civic Party, said that the department were allegedly hiding the truth as they never mentioned any flight delay in their first press release.

“It calls into question the integrity of the department. How can people trust them to be open and honest again?” he said.

A spokesperson from the department added that the TEFS System has been in use since 2012 when the old Air Traffic Management System was in operation. It was integrated into the new system on November 14.

“Like all other sub-systems, the TEFS may have some issues occasionally, no matter when it operated independently in the past or after it was integrated into the new ATMS [Air Traffic Management System],” the press release read.

The department formed an independent expert panel in early December to offer advice on issues related to the new system – the panel is expected to release a preliminary report next year.

Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.