Build or lose that competitive edge. Giovanni Bisignani, director-general and chief executive of the International Airline Transport Association (IATA), stressed these points in urging Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) executives to build a third runway and address rising passenger numbers.
Bisignani said that arrivals are expected to rise from 50.9 million last year to 62.2 million by 2014, which is close to its maximum capacity of 87 million passengers per year. He said: “If Hong Kong International Airport wants to continue to gain the economic benefits of a growing aviation industry, a third runway will be needed. Growth has been faster than anyone could have predicted.”
The new facility was first proposed by an economic think tank in Hong Kong – Hong Kong Ideas Centre – which categorised HKIA as the third busiest airport in the world after Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport and London Heathrow Airport (see story here).
While HKIA authorities are to consult the public about the issue in April, they have not been idle in responding to the problem. Last month, they revealed details of the first phase of a major expansion project, which is set to increase capacity by 10 million passengers annually with the addition of a new midfield concourse (see story here).
A Cathay Pacific spokesperson said: “Cathay Pacific supports the construction of a third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport. We understand that the Hong Kong government will start consulting the public in the first half of 2011 and we look forward to it. The growing competition of other hubs in neighbouring cities and the runway capacity constraint at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) makes investment in a third runway an urgent policy priority.”
Bisignani also commented on London Heathrow Airport, saying that it was “on its way to becoming a secondary hub.” (See story here)