Costly but necessary: HKIA plans to develop third runway

Costly but necessary: HKIA plans to develop third runway

The Airport Authority (AA) has recently proposed expanding Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) by building a third runway.

Although there are some opponents to this proposal, for both environmental and financial reasons, there is a pressing need to build a third runway. As one of the busiest aviation hubs in the world, HKIA is nearing capacity – the airport handles more than 1,050 flights per day, and the two current runways’ capacity is estimated to be around 1,200. In fact, it was projected by HKIA to reach “saturation” between 2016 and 2017.

If HKIA reaches capacity, this will only be to the detriment to Hong Kong’s economy, and eventually, its people.

If demand for aviation services increases, and Hong Kong does not increase supply by building a new runway, this will only result in an increase in prices. This will not only disadvantage the tourists and entrepreneurs who are travelling to Hong Kong, but will also negatively impact Hong Kong’s economy. It hampers largely the trading and logistics and tourism industries, which are two of the “Four Pillar Industries”. This is clearly seen through the decline of London Heathrow airport as an aviation hub. Heathrow airport has continued to operate with only two runways, despite the fact that it has nearly reached its maximum handling capacity. As a result, the number of destinations that the airport serves has decreased by more than 12 per cent, which is tremendous considering how much the demand for aviation services has increased worldwide.

Not everyone is happy with the city's plan to expand its services at Hong Kong International Airport, and they're demanding answers

Hong Kong’s appeal as an international hub stems from its convenience – it is easy for a potential investor, or tourist, or entrepreneur to come to Hong Kong. Limiting HKIA’s development of a third runway will significantly hamper this.

Although critics argue that Hong Kong can simply rely on neighbouring airports, and that there is little need for a third runway, this is hardly the case. Having to travel to neighbouring airports, such as those in Guangzhou, and then transit over to Hong Kong by other means, such as rail or bus, is a huge hassle for tourists and businessmen – most will simply choose to travel directly to HKIA regardless of the availability of other neighbouring airports.

Activists also argue that it is unfair for the public to pay for the new runway through taxes. However, this is a necessary cost that Hong Kong citizens will have to incur – the alternative, as previously mentioned, will hamper Hong Kong’s long-run economic growth, worsening incomes and living standards in the future.

Environmental activists are also strongly against the runway’s development, due to the marine, and in particular, dolphin populations, in the area. However, the government has already proposed a set of mitigation measures intended to reduce the environmental impact of the scheme, including limits on the use of high-speed ferries during construction.

A new runway may be costly, but is ultimately necessary.  

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Costly but needed


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