Asia’s storm season threatens parked aircraft

Extreme weather is a growing concern for airports across Asia with larger numbers of aircraft grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Asia’s storm season threatens parked aircraft

  • Hong Kong International Airport, home to Cathay Pacific Airway and Hong Kong Airlines, said it had 150 planes parked

SYDNEY: Airlines, airports and insurers across Asia are bracing for the prospect of unusually high damage as the region’s tropical storm season begins, as hundreds of aircraft grounded by the coronavirus pandemic can’t be moved easily.

Major airports in storm-vulnerable regions such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and India have been effectively turned into giant parking lots as COVID-19 travel restrictions choke demand.

“If you have got those aircraft on the ground, you can imagine to get them back up and running in a short space of time is no easy thing,” said Gary Moran, head of Asia aviation at insurance broker Aon. “The challenge is you can have a typhoon or hurricane coming and there are going to be a lot of aircraft that aren’t going to be able to be moved in time.”

Airline insurers, already on the hook to refund large portions of crash risk premiums because of the groundings, now face the larger-than-usual risk posed by having lots of airplanes grouped together at airports, industry experts said.

“One event could create damage which costs millions to repair, maybe even closer to hundreds of millions depending on the aircraft that are involved,” said James Jordan, a senior associate at law firm HFW’s Asia aerospace and insurance practices.

In guidance to be issued to airport operators this week, seen by Reuters, the trade group Airports Council International (ACI) warns that flying the planes out of danger, the practice in normal times, may not be possible. It says extra precautions such as more tie-downs could be needed.

“Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are a seasonal hazard in many areas of the world, and in the pandemic context provide an additional layer of hazard with many airports accommodating larger numbers of parked aircraft,” ACI Director General Angela Gittens said.

Mumbai’s airport said on Wednesday that small private planes vulnerable to strong winds had top priority to be flown out or parked in a hangar as the city braced for a rare cyclone.

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport has so many aircraft on the ground that is using a runway for parking, according to a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Taiwan’s aviation regulator said it had asked airports to hold typhoon preparation meetings 36 hours in advance this year, rather than the usual 24 hours, to give airlines enough time to make parking requests. It will open up taxiways if needed at Taipei’s main international airport, Taoyuan, to allow for 160 parked planes.

EVA Airways Corp. said its plans included securing aircraft, parking them in hangars and sending some to other airports in Taiwan and abroad. Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines Ltd, said it had typhoon plans, but declined to provide details.

Hong Kong International Airport, home to Cathay Pacific Airway and Hong Kong Airlines, said it had 150 planes parked and precautionary measures had already been carried out as part of typhoon season preparations.

The measures include fueling up the planes to make them heavier, tying weights to nose gear and putting double chocks on aircraft wheels.

Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, whose runway flooded when Typhoon Jebi breached a seawall in 2018, said it had raised the wall and waterproofed facilities.


Nvidia deal for Arm will drive computing power growth, says SoftBank’s CEO

Updated 23 October 2020

Nvidia deal for Arm will drive computing power growth, says SoftBank’s CEO

  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is an anchor investor in the $100 billion Vision Fund

TOKYO/DUBAI: SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son said on Thursday the sale of chip designer Arm to Nvidia Corp. will drive growth in computing power, in his first public comments since the $40 billion deal was announced in September.
Son made the comments at a virtual summit about artificial intelligence hosted by Saudi Arabia, an anchor investor in the $100 billion Vision Fund, at which he reiterated his belief that AI would transform society.
The Nvidia deal, part of a series of asset sales by Son, whose group has been shaken by soured investments and the COVID-19 pandemic, has raised concerns it will threaten Arm’s role as a neutral supplier in the industry.
Son is set to speak next week with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang at SoftBank World, the group’s annual event for customers and suppliers that is being retooled as it focuses on investing.
SoftBank’s growing cash pile is driving speculation about future investment plans, with the Vision Fund targeting external funding for a blank-check company, a source said, in a sign the group is regaining its mojo.
“I am a risk taker,” Son said on Thursday.
Rajeev Misra, CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers which oversees the Vision Fund, said the market share gained by online commerce companies in the last six to eight months is more than what they gained in the previous four years put together.
“COVID has accelerated the acceleration of AI even further,” Misra told the same conference, adding in the 105 companies Vision Fund 1 and 2 have invested in, artificial intelligence is the core of their businesses.