Hong Kong government gives green light for third runway

20 Mar 2012

The Hong Kong government has endorsed the construction of a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), a move embraced by the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA), home-carrier Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair.

According to the secretary for transport and housing Eva Cheng, following the government’s show of support, AA can proceed with an “environmental impact assessment, and plan design details and financial arrangements.” The environmental assessment, which is expected to take two years, must cover marine ecology, noise and air quality.

AA chairman Dr Marvin Cheung Kin-tung said: “We will immediately embark upon a three-phase process of planning, approval and implementation. 

“Once the process is completed and the environmental permit is obtained for proceeding with a third runway, we will finalise the necessary associated design details and develop suitable financial options for discussion with the government. Only after all of these have been done successfully can we proceed to seek government’s approval for the third runway project. In other words, it will take about three years, subject to the granting of all required approvals, before we can start building the third runway and its associated facilities.” The cost for the project is predicted to reach HK$136 billion (US$17 billion). 

A statement from Cathay Pacific and Dragonair highlighted that both carriers welcome the decision, as it will help maintain Hong Kong’s position as a leading aviation hub. John Slosar, chief executive of Cathay Pacific, said: “We firmly believe the third runway is of critical importance to the sustainability of the Hong Kong economy and, therefore, to the long term prosperity and well being of Hong Kong’s people.”

AA launched a three-month public consultation on the matter over summer last year, which revealed that 73 per cent of respondents opted for the third runway proposal as opposed to an expanded terminal. In December, with these positive results, AA urged the government to finally adopt and approve the proposition. The project became an urgent matter when it was revealed in 2010 that HKIA was the third busiest airport in the world and that by 2017 the airport will reach its capacity (see story here). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also encouraged the Hong Kong government to approve the third runway option because arrivals are expected to reach 62.2 million by 2014, up from 50.9 million in 2010 (see story here). 

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Alisha Haridasani

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