GOVERNMENT leaders of three Pearl River Delta cities said yesterday their respective airport projects would not threaten Hongkong's status as a regional aviation centre. Guangzhou mayor Mr Li Ziliu told a press conference a new international airport would be built near the city to alleviate the burden on the existing Baiyun Airport. Mr Li said the Guangdong Government had decided to build the international airport and the proposal had been agreed to in principle by Beijing. Mr Li said two sites had been chosen after preliminary studies - one in Conghua and the other in Panyu, which is a prosperous town just south of Guangzhou. But the mayor said Panyu was less favourable because Guangzhou would expand its urban area in that direction. In order to pave the way for building a new airport in Conghua, several local construction projects had been withheld, he said. A final decision on the airport project is expected to be made later this year. Mr Li said Guangzhou needed a new airport because the Baiyun airport could no longer meet the demands of economic development. The airport handles more than seven million passengers a year and is the busiest in the country. Mr Li also said Guangzhou had no problems with funds for the new airport project. ''Unlike Hongkong, we don't need to spend so much money on the new airport. Our new airport would cost three or four billion yuan (HK$4.02 billion to HK$5.36 billion) at most. Hongkong's new airport costs much more.'' Mr Li gave an assurance that Guangzhou's new international airport would not replace Hongkong as an aviation centre. ''There is no conflict between Hongkong's new airport and ours. ''Both places need new airports,'' he said. Shenzhen mayor Mr Li Youwei also said that while the Huangtian airport could help alleviate some of the pressure being faced by Kai Tak, it could not replace Kai Tak. He said the second phase of construction of Huangtian airport cost about 400 million yuan. ''The cost of Hongkong's Chek Lap Kok airport could be used to build several dozen airports in Shenzhen.'' Zhuhai vice-mayor Mr Zeng Defeng said the new airport in the coastal city would be the largest and most modern in China upon completion. The Sanzao airport, which is expected to be ready in about two years, will have a second runway in 1997, according to Mr Zeng. Although foreign investors had expressed interest in the project, Mr Zeng said Zhuhai was capable of financing the airport on its own. He said the new airports in Hongkong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai would not result in adverse competition. ''As the economies of these cities develop, there will be growing demand for aviation services. Building several airports is appropriate,'' he said.