Hong Kong ‘needs third runway to compete’

By Doug Newhouse |

A three-month public consultation process begins this week on the pros and cons of building a new $17bn third runway at Hong Kong International Airport, which many believe is vital if Hong Kong is to maintain its competitive edge against rival airports in the region.

Last year, Hong Kong ranked third worldwide in international passenger numbers (plus-50m) after London and Paris and Hong Kong also passed Memphis Airport in the US as the world’s busiest cargo hub. This was largely thanks to strong import and export growth in China and in particular in the Pearl River Delta region. 

But any third runway would still take a decade to build, since the land would have to be reclaimed from the sea, as much of the land on which the present airport is sited has been. 

Included in the three-month review is an alternative option, which proposes maintaining the existing two-runway system, but enhancing facilities around this. However, this is seen as a temporary fix since it would only hold good until around 2020 if current traffic forecasts prove to be accurate.

For example, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that Hong Kong Airport’s passenger demand will grow by an average of 3.2% a year to reach 97m in 2030, while cargo volumes will rise by 4.2% a year to 8.9m tonnes.

The concern from the Airport Authority at Hong Kong is that if the two-runway system is maintained then the airport could be saturated by 2010.



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