Hong Kong Airport Faces Criticism Over Handling of Display Screen Failure

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 25, 2024 04:34 AMNews
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Baggage reclaim display screens at Hong Kong International Airport
Display failure caused confusion among passengers. Source: unsplash

Hong Kong International Airport has come under fire after a significant failure of its flight information and baggage collection display systems caused chaos on a Sunday morning. The malfunction, which began at 7 AM, left passengers confused and led to missed flights, sparking calls for an overhaul of the airport's emergency response procedures.

The system crash rendered the display screens non-functional for more than nine hours. Critics argue that the airport's response was sluggish and lacked a human-centered approach. Allan Zeman, an entertainment tycoon and former board member of the airport authority, highlighted the need for robust backup systems to manage such emergencies effectively.

Zeman emphasized that the airport must have comprehensive contingency plans for its critical information systems to maintain operational continuity. He suggested that the airport should consider compensating affected passengers, as the disruption was a management issue.

Ronald Pong, an information security specialist, criticized the airport's delayed response. He noted that the problem was not acknowledged publicly until two hours after it was detected, a delay he deemed unacceptable. Pong argued that continuous monitoring should have enabled a quicker response, allowing for prompt activation of contingency plans.

Passengers initially received updates through handwritten notices in the departure hall, which many found difficult to read. Boarding passes also failed to show correct gate numbers, adding to the confusion. Pong speculated that the issue likely stemmed from back-end systems interfacing with third-party processes.

The incident exposed significant gaps in the airport's crisis management. By noon, temporary digital displays were set up, but these measures were insufficient. Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, called for a backup system capable of maintaining at least 80% functionality during a primary system failure. He stressed the need for a system that could seamlessly switch to a standby server in case of failure.

The display screen failure at Hong Kong International Airport mirrors similar incidents at other major airports worldwide. In 2018, Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London experienced similar issues, forcing staff to manually update flight information. These incidents underline the importance of robust emergency plans and backup systems to ensure operational integrity.

As Hong Kong International Airport addresses the fallout, the public and industry experts will closely watch the airport's response and future preparedness. Ensuring passenger satisfaction and maintaining operational integrity will be crucial for the airport’s reputation and efficiency.

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