Direct high speed ferry services will be offered next year from Chek Lap Kok to seven destinations in the Pearl River Delta, the Airport Authority revealed yesterday.
A new joint-venture company, Hong Kong International Airport Terminal Services, will sponsor a HK$15-million refurbishment of an on-site terminal that is presently used as a commuter link with Tuen Mun.
The joint venture brings together Chu Kong Passenger Transport and Shun Tak-China Travel International Logistics Investment - two of Hong Kong's more experienced passenger ferry operators - with Chu Kong taking a 60 per cent stake.
The authority will provide the land for the venture, which will serve Guangzhou, Taiping (Huangpu old port), Shenzhen Bao'an airport, Shekou, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Macau.
'Those are the destinations suggested to us by the operators,' an authority spokesman said.
The new service will start in the first quarter next year and is seen as an indication of the authority's drive to enhance links with a large passenger catchment area.
'We expect the two-way traffic to initially be one million [passengers a year], about half of them from a new market attracted by this route,' said Hans Bakker, the authority's commercial director.
'[The new service] extends our market reach from the seven million people in Hong Kong to the 26 million who live in the Pearl River Delta and beyond.'
The joint venture will provide the service until the end of 2005, when the new HK$4-billion Sky City project starts business. It is not known what will happen to the company after then.
Passengers using the service will bypass customs at the airport in favour of clearance on the mainland.
'We and our joint-venture partners are working closely to fulfil all government requirements in order to offer seamless, hassle-free procedures for international passengers coming in and out of the major emerging market in the delta,' Mr Bakker said.
It is thought the Tuen Mun commuters will be diverted to a smaller terminal at Tung Chung.