The regional base of an organisation representing more than 1,500 airports will be moved to Hong Kong next year in a move that reflects the growing importance of Chinese and Southeast Asian airports to the aviation industry. The Geneva-based Airports Council International, which represents airports in 168 countries and territories, said it would relocate its regional headquarters from Vancouver to Hong Kong in June to be closer to its Asian members. Alexander Strahl, the secretary-general, said: 'When we started, our major Pacific area members were in Australia, New Zealand and on the west coast of North America. But over the last five to six years, we have recruited members in Southeast Asia and China, so we have made a decision to move to Asia.' Ten other cities in the region were under consideration, but Hong Kong was selected partly because of its centralised location, expert personnel and its good telecommunications and infrastructure. 'We had to select somewhere to move to, and Hong Kong was as good as any other city. There is stability here,' he said. He said 10 major mainland airports were now council members, as well as Hong Kong and Macau. Together, the 12 airports saw about 150 million passengers each year, with Beijing's and Shanghai's passenger numbers growing at a rate of 10 to 15 per cent each year. 'This trend will continue,' Mr Strahl said. He said regional airport passenger growth was expected to rise by an average of 5.8 per cent a year until 2020, outstripping the global average of 4 per cent growth. The regional office, which will be staffed by a permanent team of up to four people, is responsible for co-ordinating the organisation's activities in Asia, which includes research, training and conferences. 'We have about three or four staff in Vancouver and Hong Kong will start with the same number,' Mr Strahl said.