The government would not insist on building a rail link to connect the airports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen unless it was satisfied it would do Hong Kong more good than harm, the transport chief said. Officials are examining the flow of air passengers and cargo between the two airports. Lawmakers asked transport minister Eva Cheng yesterday whether the proposed HK$50 billion line would in fact offer more benefits to Shenzhen's Baoan airport than to Hong Kong's. Cheng said the link could be of benefit if passengers were allowed to check in at Qianhai - the only intermediate station - as they are able to do at the Kowloon station of the Airport Express. Qianhai is set to be a new business and financial-services hub for Shenzhen. 'Our home carriers Cathay Pacific and Dragonair welcome this project; they believe it could help them develop Hong Kong into an aviation hub,' she said. But lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, an independent, said Cathay had told her it would not support a split hub - with Shenzhen handling domestic flights while Hong Kong focuses on international routes. Ronny Tong Ka-wah of the Civic Party asked if Hong Kong needed to rely on Shenzhen for domestic connections. 'Our air connection with the mainland is just 30 destinations short of Shenzhen airport's,' he noted. 'Why don't we develop direct flights instead?' A government official said most of those 30 destination cities were too small to justify direct flights. The official also said that while airline officials do not in general support airport co-operation, they were hopeful the link could bring more international travellers from the area around the Qianhai station.