CONSTRUCTION of the second runway at Chek Lap Kok airport could be brought forward to meet increased aircraft traffic demand, the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) has revealed.
PAA project director Douglas Oakervee said the level of air transport had risen since the original airport masterplan was completed in 1990-91.
'Since then market forecasts have been revised and there may be a recommendation to bring on the second runway early,' Mr Oakervee said.
The PAA has faced mounting pressure recently from airlines and the aviation industry to accelerate construction of the second runway to eliminate many of the capacity problems which exist at Kai Tak.
Mr Oakervee said work on the second runway would take 36 months.
Consequently work will have to start next year if it is to meet the PAA's original 1998-99 target completion date.
The scheme will also have to be negotiated with China because it is outside the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Britain and China in 1991.
PAA will get a clearer understanding of passenger demand when it finishes updating its future demand figures in the next few weeks.
These were due to be released in September, but Clinton Leeks, PAA's corporate development director, said they had been delayed 'because there are more immediate concerns'.
These include starting work on the terminal building and seeking a deal with China on the financial support agreement.
This will allow PAA to borrow $11.6 billion to complete the first phase of the airport.
Recent contract awards, including two deals worth nearly $12 billion for terminal construction and the installation of building services, have already taken up much of the $36.6 billion injected by the Government as equity.
Mr Leeks warned there would be problems awarding further contracts if the financial support agreement was not agreed to.