HKIA pushes for third runway
To meet the city's air traffic demand for the next 20 years, a third runway must be built at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), according to the airport authority's Master Plan 2030. Another option presented in the report is to maintain the two-runway status quo, which would only be a "medium-term solution."
"The current two-runway system is forecast to be saturated by around 2020, and beyond that, HKIA will not be able to meet additional demand," AAHK Chairman Dr Marvin Cheung Kin-tung said during the introduction of the master plan. "This could irrevocably harm Hong Kong's position as a global aviation hub."
Officials predict that maintaining the current system will cost HK$23.4 billion, will increase the number of airport jobs to 101,000 by 2030 and generate HK$432 billion in revenue by 2061. Maintaining two runways will also allow cargo throughput to increase to 6 million tonnes, but the runways will reach maximum capacity in 2020.
To build a third runway, which is estimated to cost HK$86.2 billion, officials would have to reclaim land north of the current airport island. This option would, however, result in more jobs and much higher revenue. Officials also expect that a third runway would be able to meet an annual cargo tonnage forecast of 8.9 million tonnes by 2030.
“If HKIA does not expand, or fails to expand in a timely manner, to meet our future aviation traffic demand, there will be adverse consequences," Stanley Hui Hon-chung, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. "The immediate impact would be on HKIA’s connectivity with the world, because with constrained capacity, HKIA would have to turn away traffic, possibly resulting in the airport serving fewer destinations.”
The plan is now open for three months of public comment.
In a statement, Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, supported the plan for a third runway.
“The Asia Pacific region is projected to achieve continuing strong economic growth in the coming decades, raising living standards across the region," he said. "If Hong Kong is going to maintain its competitive edge and take further advantage of new growth opportunities, work on constructing a third runway at HKIA really needs to start quite soon, given the long lead times involved. It is clearly a strategic and critical issue for Hong Kong, and its future ambitions to continue expanding its role as a major aviation hub for both passengers and cargo.”
Calls for expansion to HKIA are nothing new. In December, the Hong Kong Ideas Centre pressed HKIA officials to start construction of a third runway as soon as possible. Representatives said that it would take 10 years to build a third runway and that the current two runway system will reach capacity in 2017. The group also noted that several area airports are in the midst of upgrades; Shanghai Pudong International Airport is adding two runways, and Incheon International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport are also expanding.