Payout to airport chief put at $6m

MR Richard Allen is believed to have received at least $6 million upon his resignation from the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) last Thursday.

Although the Government has remained tight-lipped on the size of the golden handshake, legislators are prepared to press for an answer from officials during an urgent meeting of the Legislative Council's ad hoc group on airport finance on Friday.

It is understood that Mr Allen, who joined the airport body in February 1991, had a package of salary, perks and gratuities worth about $4 million a year.

His contract was said to have extended until well beyond 1997.

Legislator Mr Albert Chan Wai-yip, from the United Democrats of Hongkong, said the Government should disclose the amount of the golden handshake, which was ultimately paid by taxpayers.

Mr Chan said he would like to know how the Government had come up with the sum.

He would call on the administration to explain why Mr Allen had been replaced suddenly by Dr Hank Townsend, who was consultant project manager of the airport core programmes with the Government.

He would also ask why the Government had chosen to appoint rather than openly recruit the new PAA chief executive.

Mr Chan said he had been told Dr Townsend was appointed on a permanent basis, so the Government should give more details about Dr Townsend's contract.

Noting that there were no bidders for the eight design contracts for the new airport, Mr Chan hoped the Government would explain the differences between the administration and the consulting engineers.

A PAA spokesman said on-going discussions aimed at resolving the differences.