Study on third HK runway moves into the second phase

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2008, 12:00am

The Airport Authority has begun the second phase of a study on a third runway, as the existing two are likely to reach maximum capacity by 2015.

'We are very serious about the third runway and realise that it is very important to Hong Kong,' Stanley Hui Hon-chung, the authority's chief executive officer, said.

Speaking at a press conference for the Asian Aerospace 2009 international expo and congress, he said it would take two years to complete the environmental impact and technology feasibility study on a third runway. The second-phase study comes after Cathay Pacific Airways chief executive Tony Tyler said in February that Hong Kong needed a third runway to maintain its role as an international air hub.

A first-phase study, completed in the first quarter of this year, concluded that the combined maximum capacity of the two runways was 68 aircraft movements an hour, sources familiar with the study said. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said in his budget speech on February 27 this capacity would be reached in 2015.

Runway capacity will grow at about 3 per cent a year until 2015, while aircraft movements have increased by an average of 5 per cent in recent years.

In the second phase of study, an Airport Authority-appointed consultant will consider the best sites for a third runway and assess capacity.

Former director of civil aviation Peter Lok Kung-nam said a third runway did not necessarily mean that capacity would be increased by a third.

'If the runways could not operate in an independent mode, the capacity of the third runway would be substantially trimmed down,' Mr Lok said.

Kelvin Lau, transport analyst for the Daiwa Institute of Research, said: 'The third runway is in the interest of the airlines but it is not necessarily in the interest of Hong Kong as an aviation hub. It is more important for co-operation of airports in the Pearl River Delta to take place rather than building the third runway.'

Mr Lok said that after the construction of a railway between Hong Kong airport and its Shenzhen counterpart by 2014, the two airports could integrate with each other.

'Hong Kong is an international gateway while Shenzhen is a mainland gateway,' Mr Lok said.

'After the third runway, you'll be looking for the fourth, there's no ending ... but there is a limit to the number of runways [at the airport].'