Does Hong Kong need to build a third airport runway?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am


Jessica Leung, 16, Our Lady of the Rosary College

Recently, the Airport Authority announced that they had decided to build a third runway at Chek Lap Kok. This decision has attracted a lot of attention and controversy. I don't agree with the decision.

Firstly, building a third runway will cause serious pollution. The plan will not only worsen air quality in Tuen Mun and Tung Chung, but endanger Chinese white dolphins, as construction work will take place near a marine park specifically set up to protect these creatures. The Chinese white dolphins are very rare. It's not worth sacrificing them for the sake of more space for planes.

Secondly, this plan is very costly. Building the runway could cost almost HK$140 billion, and around 650 hectares of land would have to be reclaimed.

Of course, all that reclamation is bad news for the environment, but what's worse, the plan to build a runway uses money that could be better spent reducing poverty in the city.

Last but not least, this plan does not promote sustainable development. It should be about balancing social and economic needs while preserving the environment. But this runway appears to only benefit the economy. The environment and the needs of the poor have been ignored.

The plan should be reconsidered because it will make Hong Kong a less enjoyable place for future generations. Until we have a proposal that embraces sustainable development, we should make best use of the runways we already have.

Cathy Chan, 16, CCC Kei Chi Secondary School

Hong Kong has long been the gateway to the mainland, and a major transport interchange for travellers coming to Asia. Although the city has a natural geographical advantage, and is the hub of Asia Pacific, this is not enough. With increasing travel, we need a third airport runway.

More and more people are flying these days, and Chek Lap Kok airport will soon be overwhelmed if we do not build a third runway. One study showed that flight movements at Chek Lap Kok have grown an average of 6.5 per cent a year, and the two existing runways will reach their capacity by 2017, even if hours are extended and facilities improved.

Our city is well-known for its efficient transport system. But without a third runway, we could lose our status as a regional transport hub to our neighbours, especially those in the Pearl River Delta, which are actively developing their aviation sectors.

Some may argue we could maintain the two-runway system. Although we can still accommodate 74 million passengers and six million tonnes of cargo a year, our airport will reach saturation point by 2020. It will cost the city HK$42.5 billion so that we can stay competitive for those nine years. It is obviously not cost-effective.

Air traffic is becoming more and more important to our development. We should take the growing demand for air travel as a chance to sharpen our edge. A suitable and effective way to do this is to build a third airport runway.