• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 11:27pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong will suffer without a third runway, expert says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 4:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 4:28am

Hong Kong "will start suffering" because of a lack of airport capacity - as does London - if a third runway is not built, an international airport group has said.

Dr Rafael Echevarne, economics director of Airports Council International, said a new runway was essential for the city to maintain its leading role in aviation in the region. It would also benefit the Pearl River Delta region, he said.

The Airport Authority and the government have proposed building a third runway as the airport will reach its capacity limit by 2018. The HK$130 billion project will require the reclamation of 650 hectares of land, and concerns have been raised about potential noise and air pollution.

Echevarne said a new runway in Hong Kong would bring more benefits to the region than having it in other cities like Shenzhen or Guangzhou because of the Hong Kong airport's greater international connections. But if it was not built, there would be a "huge economic impact" on Hong Kong, he said.

"The new runway has to be where the men already are," he said. "It's like a snowball effect. When there are lots of connections, many more airlines will want to use the airport."

Echevarne said the city could focus on increasing its freight capacity and further develop the airport's connectivity if it was worried about its capacity to handle tourists. The airport handled over 4.12 million tonnes of cargo last year, the most in the world.

Hong Kong could end up in the same situation as London if nothing was done, he said. London's biggest airport, Heathrow, has not had a new runway for 60 years. It is estimated that Britain loses £1.1 billion (HK$14.3 billion) each year because of Heathrow's limited capacity and need for a new runway.

One reason Heathrow shelved a project for a third runway in 2010 was because the social costs of building the runway were found to be as high as its estimated economic benefits.

A study recently found that land reclamation for the proposed third runway in Hong Kong could cause the loss of the pink dolphin habitat off Lantau, and that would cost the city HK$36.1 billion over 10 years.


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This article is now closed to comments

First of all, reorganizing the airspace would NOT improve the airport capacity drastically as the hill behind the airport is the problem. Airports with two fully separated 3000-plus-meter runways such as Heathrow and Munich can handle 80+ flights hourly because they are located in very flat areas.
Second, Cathay would not be the first to suffer because the airline can tweak its slot portfolios during the peak hours and look into operating a few more flights before 0800 and after 0100, as well as covert the A350-900s on order to the -1000s. The traveling public and foreign airlines will suffer first much sooner.
Third, Hong Kong is already one of the world´s most wide-body aircraft dominated airports. You cannot operate an airport with just B777s, B747s and A380s alone.
Lastly, it is the job of the governments and airport operators to invest in the airfields and often the airport terminals. The airport is an engine for growth rather than a toy.
Yes, loss of the pink dolphin which, people seem to have conveniently forgotten, used to be a symbol of Hong Kong after the handover. Strangely symbolic of HK's fate too, perhaps?
Also, if these people really must have their new toy, let them pay for it, NOT HK's beleaguered tax payers. I'm sure John Tsang and his think tank will agree that we shouldn't overburden ourselves with costs we can't afford. Right?
Built it then! Who are the morons sitting in that committee?
What is needed to improve capacity at the airport is to sort out the byzantine air traffic restrictions imposed by the Mainland authorities - not a grossly over-priced concrete pouring exercise.
"Hong Kong "will start suffering" because of a lack of airport capacity - as does London - if a third runway is not built, an international airport group has said."
Hong Kong is already suffering from a serious lack of adequate housing, an underfunded public hospital system and a failure to achieve clean air. A third runway will do nothing to alleviate any of these.
I will dismiss this article as self-serving for an expert in aviation for Cathay Pacific -- a florist would always claim flowers smell good. Aviation is part of transportation system. It is however the most expansive for travelers. All factors must be considered to justify its use for the public. Here we have an expert in aviation calling for a third runway in Hong Kong. Yet within less than half-hour flight there are expanded airport facilities being recently in operation. If Hong Kong doesn’t work with the new context cooperatively but decide to compete head on with our neighbor for flying passengers let the aviation business – mainly the Cathy Pacific does the investing for the third runway. Hong Kong people have better use of the money elsewhere which will benefit more people beyond just concrete pouring business.
Try better and hire a transportation expert next time.
Wasn't there an article here a few years ago about how the Airport companies changed the original planned use from "wide bodies" to small planes so that by aircraft numbers it looks like reaching capacity but by passenger numbers is still way off capacity?
Heathrow Runway 3 will leave UK £5 billion worse off – says new NEF report
19.4.2010 (New Economics Foundation press release)
Runway 3 will produce a negative return for society and is economically and socially
inefficient, according to a new independent evaluation.
A new and comprehensive analysis, using Social Return on Investment (SROI), published
today, Monday 19 April 2010, by independent think-tank NEF (the new economics
foundation), concludes that a third runway at Heathrow would leave society worse
off by £5 billion.
Researchers at NEF used the same economic modelling program as the Department
for Transport (DfT), but updated the input data on economic growth rates, exchange
rates, carbon prices, fuel prices and other variables. They also estimated the
costs of a new runway to the local community near Heathrow. This included re-visiting
the DfT’s estimates for noise disturbance and air pollution, and for the first
time, calculating the cost of additional surface congestion and community blight


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