Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge

Forecast of greater demand for airport may be based on faulty statistics

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2011, 12:00am

The Airport Master Plan 2030 is now being discussed as part of a public consultation process. Two assumptions are made under this plan in accordance with its forecast analysis. First, there will be a growing demand; second, the capacity of our airport will not be sufficient to cater to this demand.

Despite its effort to incorporate as many factors as possible into the analysis, some of these are being treated in an overgeneralised manner, which leads one to question the statistics and might lead to inaccurate forecasts.

The main report states that, despite the ongoing expansion of the five airports in the greater Pearl River Delta region, 'there will still be a significant unfulfilled demand for air services both in the medium term up to 2020 and in the long term up to 2030'. Yet, how many of these projected passenger trips in the delta region are international and how many are domestic trips? As Hong Kong mainly serves as an international hub, growth in passenger demand in the delta region will not affect Hong Kong if the demand is mostly for domestic trips.

In the technical report, it is projected that the numbers of outbound mainland tourists will increase continuously, which will have a positive effect on tourism in Hong Kong.

However, which part of China is going to experience the greatest growth in the number of outbound tourists and what destinations will they prefer to opt for? If greatest demand for tourism in Hong Kong is going to be within the competitive zone of the high-speed rail network, the estimate of mainland tourists visiting the city by plane through Hong Kong International Airport might be exaggerated.

Concerning the high-speed railway, the main report has listed Nanjing and Nanchang but not Shanghai as cities within the network's competitive zone. However, according to statistics in the same report, all three cities are within the zone in which a plane is only marginally faster than the train. So why has Shanghai been excluded from the calculation of the impact of the express rail link on our air traffic demand? The points I have raised call into question the accuracy of the analysis which underpinned the whole master plan. If the Airport Authority has already considered these questions beforehand, I believe it should be willing to disclose related information to prove the accuracy of its assessment. If it has not done so, it is not too late to make the necessary adjustments.

York Ip Yuk-wai, Ma Wan