Transit passengers who travel by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to an expanded SkyPier integrated with the airport will be exempt from a HK$120 (US$15) departure tax starting next year in a government bid to boost the city’s status as an aviation hub. The incentive will cost the government HK$172 million per year from 2025 and HK$262 million per year from 2030 in lost revenue, assuming that the tax rate remains unchanged and passenger volume predictions for the SkyPier project are accurate, according to a paper submitted to the Legislative Council by the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau on Wednesday. “The Airport Authority is taking forward the SkyPier project at Hong Kong International Airport [HKIA], with a view to providing hassle-free travelling experience for bridge-to-air/air-to-bridge transfer passengers,” the bureau said. The Airport Authority estimated that the number of bridge-to-air passengers who would use the SkyPier for transfer in Hong Kong would be 1.43 million in 2025 and 2.19 million in 2030, it said. “The arrangement will encourage more tourists from mainland China and Macau to make use of HKIA and is conducive to enhancing Hong Kong’s status as a regional and international aviation hub,” a government spokesman said. The existing SkyPier ferry terminal at the airport offers connections to five Pearl River Delta ports: Shenzhen Shekou, Shenzhen Fuyong, Macau, Zhongshan and Humen in Dongguan. When the expanded section opens next year, passengers arriving from the Greater Bay Area via the bridge will be able to enter the airport using land transport approved by HKIA for departure by air without having to clear immigration, in the same way as sea-to-air passengers at SkyPier do. Travellers trickle into Hong Kong, a crowd returns to Singapore “Under the existing Air Passenger Departure Tax Ordinance, direct transit, connecting airside transfer and SkyPier sea-to-air passengers are exempt from payment of the departure tax,” the spokesman said. “The legislative amendment will provide the same exemption for all transfer passengers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport through the SkyPier via the bridge.” Tourism lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said the departure tax waiver would help attract mainland tourists to Hong Kong but the most important thing was to reopen the city’s borders with the mainland. “It will certainly help entice mainland tourists into coming to Hong Kong as transit passengers to go overseas. But the help is very limited,” he said. “The most important thing is to reopen the city’s borders with China. Hong Kong also needs to shorten its quarantine period for inbound travellers to three days in a hotel instead of the current seven days if it wants to boost the aviation industry.” The amendment to the Air Passenger Departure Tax Ordinance will be gazetted on Friday. Hong Kong’s third runway ready for take off, but who will use it now? Separately, in a paper submitted to Legco on Wednesday, the Airport Authority said the third runway could commence operation this year as planned, and the entire project should be completed in 2024. An aircraft crash and rescue exercise is planned for later this month to assess the airport’s readiness followed by a series of operational trials and drills. The authority added that once the third runway opened, the centre runway would be closed for reconfiguration for about two years and an interim two-runway system would come into operation.