THE opening of Chek Lap Kok airport will not substantially increase visitor numbers, according to the chairman of the Hong Kong Hotels Association, Thomas Axmacher. He said the hotel industry would not see significant growth until the airport's second runway was built. 'If you have one runway, you can only have take-off and landing every two minutes. That's the maximum a runway can handle,' he said after the association's annual general meeting. 'It doesn't matter if the building [at the new airport] is 10 times bigger, the bottleneck is the runway. You can't bring more people in.' Although Chek Lap Kok might offer 24-hour operation, Mr Axmacher questioned how many passengers would want to arrive in the middle of the night. The new airport would only transfer the problem miles away from the city, making it worse. He said the association supported a travel industry's demand for an earlier start on the proposed second runway. The association's executive director Manuel Woo said the improved relations between Britain and China presented a good opportunity for London to raise the issue with Beijing. A spokesman said the Government was examining traffic demand forecasts and had yet to decide on timing for the second runaway. Mr Axmacher said the government decision to relax plot ratio for hotel development while at the same time remove concessions to exclude the basement and engineering rooms from the plot ratio formula would not work to the advantage of the hotel industry.