[HONG KONG] Hong Kong, the world's largest international air cargo airport, aims to start construction next year on a third runway that will open by 2023 as regional rivals step up efforts to capture growing passenger traffic and cargo demand in Asia.
The new facility will help Hong Kong International Airport boost capacity to 100 million passengers and 9 million tons of cargo a year by 2030, Financial Secretary John Tsang said in his budget speech today. The airport said it handled 63.4 million passengers and 4.38 million tons of cargo last year, both records.
"It is imperative for us to take forward the development of a three-runway system in order to meet our long-term air traffic demand and to maintain our status as an international and regional aviation center in the face of fierce competition from other airports in the region," Mr Tsang said in a prepared statement.
Tsang's pledge comes after Singapore announced plans Monday to spend S$3 billion to begin developing a fifth passenger terminal at Changi International Airport over the next decade, and as other countries gear up to tap growing travel demand from China and other parts of Asia.
Beijing has started construction on a second international airport, while the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu has received regulatory approval for a new 69.3 billion yuan (S$15.1 billion) airport that will have three runways.
Hong Kong's third runway is projected to cost HK$150 billion (S$26.2 billion).
Hong Kong's total trade came to HK$8.4 trillion last year, with air cargo through the airport comprising nearly 40 per cent of exports and imports by value, Mr Tsang said today.
Mr Tsang also announced plans to develop air financing in Hong Kong and pledged to explore measures to promote such business.