Airport funding dispute takes off amidst plans to build bigger airport

Airport funding dispute takes off amidst plans to build bigger airport

With Hong Kong International Airport's new runway confirmed, there's just one big question which remains: who will pay for it?

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Tony Tyler doesn't want passengers to pay more for the new runway.
Tony Tyler doesn't want passengers to pay more for the new runway.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

Passengers and airlines should not have to pay higher taxes to build Chek Lap Kok's third runway, a former Cathay Pacific chief executive has said. The comments have caused debate on airport funding.

For several years, there were debates about whether Chek Lap Kok airport needs a new runway or not. Some people say it's bad for the environment. But others say that as a growing international city, Hong Kong needs a bigger airport.

Last year, the government agreed to plans to build a third runway. Airport Authority Hong Kong thinks the project will cost around HK$150 billion. But now, the question is: who will pay for it?

Tony Tyler, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a former Cathay Pacific chief executive, doesn't want the cost passed onto passengers. He said a 10 per cent increase in user charges could cause passenger numbers to drop by 80,000 and put 600 jobs at risk. "We are not asking for anyone to foot the bill for our growth. Airlines would pay for the infrastructure - through increased volumes, not increased charges," he said.

Some people don't want public money to be used to pay for the runway. Legco transport panel chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said it wouldn't be fair because not everyone flies. "It really should be funded by air travellers," said Tien. But he said that taxpayers could still benefit from the money the airport brings to the city's economy.

IATA said the airport's HK$7.8 billion pre-tax profit in the last financial year showed it was in a good funding situation. The Airport Authority would not comment on where the expansion money will come from while it was submitting its proposal to the government. The Transport and Housing Bureau said it was studying the authority's recommendations and also declined to comment.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Ex-airline chief says higher taxes won't fly

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