Life will become a little easier for hard- pressed executives early next year when a special terminal at Hong Kong International Airport becomes operational to serve the SAR's business aviation market. With an initial investment of $68 million, the facility is being developed by Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre (HKBAC), which won a 15-year operating franchise from the Airport Authority last July. HKBAC is fronted by Sun Hung Kai Properties. Other partners include the Kadoorie Group, AMR Corporation from the United States, which owns American Airlines, China Southern Airlines, USI Holdings chairman Christopher Cheng Wai-chee and politician Henry Tang Ying-yen. The inclusion of such a high-profile group, including helicopter pilot and aviation buff Michael Kadoorie, should ensure the complex has the same level of luxury found in the main terminal's first class and VIP lounges. This will be a major improvement on the current 'play pen' for executive jet aircraft at Kai Tak which are consigned to an area near the airport's air cargo centre. Mr Kadoorie has already shown a taste of what is to come with the creation of a special departure and arrival lounge at the top of the Peninsula Hotel. The opulent, but functional, centre merges aircraft artifacts, including mementoes from Hong Kong's between-the-wars position as a major trans-Pacific flying boat stop, with lots of leather and wooden panelling. Currently, the site of the 6,456-square-feet Chek Lap Kok centre is a bare piece of land, but that should change over the coming months as work starts on the terminal and supporting infrastructure. This includes a dedicated refuelling facility, an aircraft and avionics service and maintenance base and weather and flight briefing rooms. Pilots and aircrew will be able to pre-flight their aircraft, file flight plans with air traffic control and receive weather reports and other meteorological information both en route and at their intended destination. The project is being overseen by Peter Lok Kung-nam, the former director of Civil Aviation. Sun Hung Kai Properties believes the aviation centre will be 'a major opportunity for making Hong Kong a corporate aviation hub'. At Kai Tak, the number of corporate jet movements is estimated to be about 500 a year. This is forecast to double next year as the centre attracts some of the business currently handled by Macau and Shenzhen airports. There will be an even more dramatic increase in following years with 6,000 flights a year forecast by 2005 and 11,000 by 2010. Development of the aviation centre was kick-started after the British and Chinese governments approved construction of the second runway at Chek Lap Kok in May 1996. This immediately doubled runway capacity and allowed much more flexibility in airport operations. Once the second runway is operational at the end of this year, executive jets should be able to take off and land without any restrictions. This will represent considerable improvement over the current early morning and mid-afternoon curfews.