The new airport chief recommended a June opening despite knowing more than a year ago Chek Lap Kok might not be 'efficient' enough by then, an inquiry heard yesterday. Billy Lam Chung-lun, who started his duties as acting Airport Authority chief executive by giving evidence yesterday, said it was better to push ahead with the date despite knowing the airport might have a bumpy start. He told the Commission of Inquiry on the New Airport that apathy could have set in if a decision to delay the opening was announced, which would have caused work to fall even further behind. Under cross-examination by Benjamin Yu SC for the commission, Mr Lam said he and his former office had recommended in November last year three opening dates to senior government officials - April, May and June. Mr Lam was director of the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office at the time, before being seconded to the authority as deputy chief executive. He told the commission he was aware then that work was falling behind and could affect the suggested June opening. But he said that commitments made by others meant there was no choice but to intensify the work and push ahead. Mr Lam said an April opening had been pledged by the authority and endorsed by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, with the Airport Express railway being completed in June. Mr Yu asked: 'So even though you knew there would be a risk, you still had to accept June as an opening date?' Mr Lam replied: 'We believed with everyone's efforts we could achieve the target. When you look back at the whole airport core projects there had always been an element of uncertainty.' He said the Tsing Ma Bridge and the Convention and Exhibition Centre extension were similar examples of intensifying work to meet schedules. Mr Lam cited a traditional Chinese saying for the commission: 'When going into battle, you have to mobilise everyone to focus on the target.' He maintained the airport was ready for the finalised date of July 6 and 'had all the elements' required. However, he admitted small problems on day one snowballed into the resulting chaos.