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Hong Kong air hub in urgent need of third runway

7 Dec 2010

A Hong Kong think tank says that the city’s Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is in urgent need of a third runway as it is poised to surpass capacity and may lose its competitive edge among other international hubs.

Hong Kong Ideas Centre has released the Urgent Green Light for Third Runway study, which finds HKIA to be the third busiest airport in the world, having handled 48 million passengers in the last 12 months, following closely behind Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport and London Heathrow Airport.

The report predicts that by 2017, the airport will reach its maximum capacity, and therefore, requires an additional runway. This, it points out will, not only enable HKIA to match competition provided by other major hubs in the region, such as Guangzhou, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Singapore, but also prepared it for the projected growth in air traffic. From now till 2029, air traffic within Asia-Pacific will grow by 7 percent each year, and in Mainland China alone, air traffic will jump by at least 11 percent in the next 10 years.

Said John Slosar, chief operating officer of Hong Kong flag-carrier Cathay Pacific (who suceeds current head Tony Tyler as chief executive officer in April 2011) said: “The third runway is an important issue for Hong Kong in 2011 because our key priority must be to continue to enhance the Hong Kong hub. That will only happen with more connectivity. The study makes very clear that with the absence of a third runway, Hong Kong will be full, which will hinder connectivity.”

The study acknowledges that the additional runway will face opposition particularly by environmentalists, as it would involve land reclamation but states that the third runway will “bring benefits to Hong Kong’s economy in multiple ways.”

For the full study, visit www.ideascentre.hk

Alisha Haridasani

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