LOCAL staff would be recruited to operate the airport at Chek Lap Kok, Secretary for Economic Services Gordon Siu Kwing-chue pledged yesterday. But he said Hong Kong's lack of experienced professionals with knowledge of building airports meant foreign experts were needed. 'Once the construction work is completed, they will all leave Hong Kong,' said Mr Siu, a member of the Airport Authority. The territory had enough experts to ensure the smooth running of the new airport. 'In the commercial and operational aspects of the new airport, there are a lot of professionals here and there is no need to import from other countries,' he said. Donna Mongan, corporate affairs officer of the Airport Authority, said there was no breakdown of expatriate building professionals because the authority did not differentiate staff by nationality. It had stopped employing people on expatriate terms in February 1994 because of the localisation policy. 'Overseas and local professionals are all employed on common terms. There is a grading system for engineers and architects,' said Ms Mongan. She said salary was decided according to expertise. 'They do not get more pay simply because they are from overseas. We seek local people first for every position and it will not harm the prospect of the Hong Kong people,' she said. At the newly established Airport Authority, three to four working groups were examining issues related to auditing and personnel. Mr Siu said members of the authority were considering which working groups to join and suggestions for new groups were well under way. He did not think the recent rash of disputes over deductions from the wages of the imported airport workers would put off foreign investors. 'We have experienced a lot of changes and problems in recent decades. Issues like unemployment and economic reconstruction are not new to us. 'I am confident that we can solve the problems by the old formula - through mutual understanding and compromise,' said Mr Siu.