Airport Authority master plan aims to secure SAR hub status
The Airport Authority has unveiled its long-awaited master plan aimed at securing the SAR's status as the region's premier tourism destination and trade transport hub until 2020.
Chief executive David Pang Ding-jung disclosed a three-part strategy centring on the newly named Sky City development, a near-airport logistics park at Tung Chung and a 'conceptual' facility in Nansha in the Pearl River Delta, aimed at putting Hong Kong businesses in closer touch with their south China counterparts.
The Government has earmarked HK$2 billion for Sky City, to include an exhibition centre, a nine-hectare office and retail development and a passenger ferry terminal with high-speed links to the Pearl River Delta. Another HK$2 billion will have to be raised in the private sector.
Sky City's mandate is to promote tourism by providing better facilities for passengers and to increase non-aeronautical revenue.
A HK$1.1 billion to HK$1.2 billion price tag was also attached to the proposed logistics park at Tung Chung.
Mr Pang dismissed concerns about the financing needed for the projects.
'If you have a good project, you don't need to worry about financing. There is a significant amount of money available in the private sector waiting for an intelligent investment opportunity,' he said.
He described the Nansha initiative as urgently needed to secure the high-value cargo volumes coming from the rapidly expanding high-technology and high-value industries in the Pearl River Delta.
'The basic element that drives an airport is flow, flow of people and the flow of goods. To maintain economic growth you have to maintain the flow. We can no longer expect to do that by sitting in the SAR and collecting what comes our way,' he said. 'We have to go to the marketplace to understand our customers and understand their needs.'
Hans Bakker, the authority's commercial director, said he envisioned a prototype consolidation facility in Nansha, from which most of the cargo would transit to the airport via a 30-minute high-speed ferry journey.
Mr Pang said that ultimately the Nansha project could help extend the SAR's catchment area as far as Wuhan and other cities in the Yangtze basin.
The authority will tender a bid for a dedicated express facility at the airport 'before the end of the year'.
The volume of express goods transiting the SAR, he said, was growing twice as fast as traditional air cargo and the new facility would increase the airport's annual capacity by 200,000 tonnes.
However, the plan did not go far enough for some observers.
Consultants hired last year by the authority to map out a long-term plan, called the Strategic Overview of Major Airport Development (Somad), for the airport's development said the new strategy was not forthright about the challenges facing the airport.
In particular, the authority's plan failed to make public a wider scheme being developed to link Chek Lap Kok with rival airports in the region.
Mr Pang said the three-point initiative 'included suggestions from the Somad study'.
Legislative Council members cautiously backed the authority's plan but expressed a need for a more concrete proposal of how it would be developed.
The chairman of the panel on economic services, James Tien Pei-chun, asked the authority when the decisions needed to be made to initiate the plan and who would ultimately pay the bill.