Striking a deal with Zhuhai airport better than fourth runway

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 May, 2016, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 May, 2016, 4:48pm

I was shocked to read the report “Hong Kong needs ‘fourth runway’ to keep up with competition, debate hears” (April 14).

Though Hong Kong’s aviation sector does have room for expansion and improvement, I don’t feel there’s a need for a fourth airport runway, given how the construction of a third one has already caused so much discontent.

The construction of a third runway has raised many concerns, mainly about the destruction it may bring to the environment. Lam Chiu-ying, a professor in Chinese University’s department of geography and resource management, expressed concern about an increase in maritime accidents, as the width of a major marine passage would shrink while the number of vessels sailing through the area would grow.

He said this would “make large-scale accidents such as collisions between passenger ferries and cargo ships highly likely” (“Red flag raised over runway marine safety”, April 12). This HK$141.5 billion project is bringing more vessels through the habitat of the Chinese white dolphin.

Reclamation and construction work also result in a drop in water quality.

Surely, other solutions can be found to ensure Hong Kong remains competitive as an aviation hub rather than opting for another large infrastructure project.

We have to decide what our priorities are. Ensuring profits continue to be made in Hong Kong is one thing, but we have to get the right balance. Once a marine habitat is destroyed, it is very difficult to repair the damage.

There are other options which can be looked at. Zhuhai airport is underutilised and wants to share some of the international business jets and helicopters that have difficulty getting space at Hong Kong airport, because it is so busy.

This proposal is feasible given that the Hong Kong Airport Authority owns a 55 per cent stake in Zhuhai airport, so some passengers could easily be diverted there. There would then be no need to have a fourth runway.

While landing and parking will be cheaper than Hong Kong, that should not lead to a drop in tourist numbers, as Hong Kong will remain popular with visitors from around the world.

It would also lead to better relations between Hong Kong and the mainland. This is important given that we are part of the nation.

Even with this new arrangement with Zhuhai airport, Hong Kong’s unique qualities will not be compromised and I am sure that it will remain one of the world’s premier aviation destinations.

Bianca Cheng, Sha Tin