Hong Kong airport authority says 3rd runway necessary
Hong Kong airport, which has two runways, wants to build a third as it says the two will be full by 2020. It claims this is needed to keep up with the rapid growth in air traffic. There has been a 3 month consultation. The runway would cost perhaps much more than $17 billion. Hong Kong overtook Memphis in 2010 as the world’s busiest air cargo hub on the back of strong import and export growth in China. Critics are calling for a thorough environmental assessment before any decision is made, but time constraints will make such a report unlikely. WWF has questioned the project.
(Reuters) – Airport Authority Hong Kong, operator of the world’s busiest air cargo airport, said on Thursday that a proposed third runway with an estimated price tag of $17 billion was necessary to keep up with rapid growth in air traffic.
After a three-month public consultation on its development plan, the authority recommended that the government build a new runway at Hong Kong International Airport as the two existing runways are forecast to be saturated by 2020.
“There is a clear consensus on the need to make a decision regarding HKIA’s (Hong Kong International Airport) expansion as soon as possible,” said AAHK Chairman Marvin Cheung in a statement. “It’s clear that the majority of those who participated in the consultation prefer the three-runway option.”
Construction costs including land reclamation are estimated at HK$136.2 billion, factoring for inflation, or HK$86.2 billion in 2010 dollar terms.
Hong Kong overtook Memphis in 2010 as the world’s busiest air cargo hub on the back of strong import and export growth in China, especially the Pearl River Delta region. The airport ranked third worldwide in terms of international passenger flows in 2010 after London and Paris.
The Civic Party, Hong Kong’s liberal democratic political party, warned that the final cost for the new runway would be higher the authority’s estimate.
“The Hong Kong airport authority produced a handicapped report that is incomplete and does not include socio-environmental costs,” said Civic Party Vice-Chairman Albert Lai.
He called on the government to return to the drawing board for a full re-assessment of all costs and benefits.
The Civil Party’s reservations have been echoed by academics.
Law Cheung, associate director of the Aviation Policy & Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said planning and studies for major infrastructure projects should be initiated by the government rather than advocators.
“There are concerns about the cost and environmental impact of the three-runway system,” he said. “Hong Kong will need a third runway and that’s imperative, but what about building a shorter or narrower one with less pollution and cost?”
(Reporting by Alison Leung; Editing by Chris Lewis)
Should Hong Kong build a third airport runway?
By Vanessa Ko | December 31, 2011,
HONG KONG — Airport Authority Hong Kong said Hong Kong International Airport will need to add a new runway — it’s third — in order to meet future demands of cargo and passenger traffic.
But its proposal will cost taxpayers $17 billion, after factoring in inflation, making it the city’s most expensive infrastructure project yet.
Critics are calling for a thorough environmental assessment before any decision is made, but time constraints will make such a report unlikely: the government will decide over the next few months whether to give the proposal the green light.
Hong Kong’s airport has the most world’s most air-cargo traffic and last year was third in terms of international air passenger flow, behind London and Paris.
The two existing runways are expected to be saturated in use by 2020 if a third one is not added. The new runway would be built on reclaimed land extending from the airport’s location on Lantau Island.
To further bolster the proposal, the AAHK announced on Thursday that a survey of the public found three quarters of respondents support the three-runway plan — a “clear consensus,” as the AAHK said in a statement.
Few question that the addition is necessary for Hong Kong to maintain its hub status. It is estimated that the project would also help bring in $117 billion in economic benefits over 50 years until 2061. These benefits include the creation of thousands of jobs.
But critics say overall benefits are diminished by environmental drawbacks.
The Civic Party, a liberal democratic party, has called for a detailed environmental assessment. Such a study would measure the effect that construction and dredging might have on surrounding waters (populated by rare dolphins that are cute to boot) as well as the level of noise pollution for residents in the area.
WWF in Hong Kong has questioned whether evolving carbon-tax rules might lower the expected demand for flights, and has expressed concern over increased greenhouse gases as a result of busier aviation traffic.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Toyotaboy95
Hong Kong Airport looks set to get third runway
David Badger | Tue, 3 Jan 2012 (IFW)
Hactl welcomes positive results of consultation on expansion at world’s largest air freight hub
“Only by providing airlines with space to grow will Hong Kong retain its existing airline base, and attract new airline customers.
“If we lose our momentum, other airports in other countries will gain at our expense. And we will not stand still, but slide backwards into decline.”