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July 30th, 2013:

With demand soaring, time is essence for new runway

Since the opening of Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998, air traffic has grown at a phenomenal rate.

John Chai

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Since the opening of Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998, air traffic has grown at a phenomenal rate.

In 2012 the airport handled 56.5 million passengers, 352,000 take-offs and landings and 4.03 million tonnes of cargo, maintaining its position as one of the busiest aviation hubs in the world.

To meet air traffic demand in the medium-term, the Airport Authority has invested more than HK$12 billion since 2011 in two development projects: the Midfield Development and the Apron Expansion, which together provide 48 parking stands, a new concourse at Midfield and other related facilities.

These facilities will start to operate in phases by the end of 2015.

In addition, in view of the faster-than- expected growth in demand, we plan to build 10 additional parking stands at Midfield in 2017. This will enable the airport to accommodate up to 420,000 flight movements, which is the annual practical maximum runway capacity of the existing two-runway system. (CTA: 1,150 per day Only 48 movements per hour – little happens between 0100 and 0500 hrs each day)

Notwithstanding the above, once these medium-term projects are completed, there will not be sufficient land within the airfield for further development of the airport. What is more, current traffic volumes are ahead of the HKIA Master Plan 2030 forecast, which implies that the current two-runway system will likely approach its maximum handling capacity earlier than expected. There is, therefore, a pressing need to expand the airport into a three-runway system.

The air traffic demand forecast in the HKIA Master Plan 2030 has in fact taken into account factors such as the Express Rail Link that connects Hong Kong to the mainland’s high-speed train network, cross-strait direct flights between Taiwan and the mainland, and the expansion plans of major airports in the Greater Pearl River Delta. The GPRD is estimated to reach 387 million passenger trips and 18 million tonnes of cargo yearly by 2030.

Such demand is well beyond the combined capacity of all five airports, namely HKIA, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, Macao International Airport and Zhuhai Airport.

Airport expansion needs long lead time to implement. If HKIA’s development plan cannot be implemented as soon as practicable, Hong Kong will not be able to meet future demand for air traffic.

This will also lead to increases in air fares and a contraction of HKIA’s air network. Moreover, this will undermine Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub and the SAR’s economy, especially the competitiveness of the logistics and tourism sectors.

In order to meet the expected long-term growth in demand for air traffic, the Airport Authority is now carrying out a thorough and rigorous statutory Environment Impact Assessment study for the three-runway system, or 3RS, project.

We are now more than halfway through the study and the authority will host an exhibition and two sessions of public forum in early August at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to provide the public with an update on the EIA study and the 3RS project.

We wish to complete the relevant process smoothly and to commence construction as early as possible.

In addition to a new runway, the 3RS project also includes facilities such as parking stands, passenger concourse/ terminal and other related operational systems. When the 3RS is commissioned and commences operation in 2023, the airport will be able to accommodate 620,000 aircraft movements per year, allowing HKIA to meet air traffic demand up to and possibly beyond 2030.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of HKIA, and in the past the airport has received enormous support from Hong Kong citizens and travelers around the world. We hope the public can continue to support the expansion of HKIA and that together we can build a better Hong Kong.

John Chai is executive director, projects, Airport Authority Hong Kong

Is it safe to swim in the sea?

Is it safe to swim in the sea?

How clean is the water around our coasts?

  • Lucy Siegle


swim in the sea

Beach sweep: surfers protest against sewage in Bournemouth. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Good news! You’re less likely than you were in 1990 to encounter a turd in the surf. This happened to Cornish surfer Chris Hines, who got one squished between him and his board. It inspired him to start the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). Twenty-three years later, organisations such as SAS and investment by water companies have brought about higher standards. There are now 500 bathing water sites in the UK (including 11 registered freshwater bathing sites), and you can monitor their bathing water standards at

However, the tide hasn’t completely turned. This year water bathing quality classified as excellent has fallen to its lowest level since 2000. Up to 1.75m cases of gastrointestinal infections per year are caused by contaminated bathing waters. And, in two years, when EU standards come in which are twice as strict in terms of tolerance of microbial loads in water samples, 50 British beaches might be condemned.

There’s always a balance to be found between expense and risk. Regulatory authorities play down risk and privatised water companies need to make money for shareholders. One recent bathing-water-quality scandals concerns combined sewer outflows (CSOs). CSO episodes occur after heavy rain, when water overwhelms ageing sewerage systems and discharges waste water into rivers and on to beaches. They cause serious pollution and are pernicious after dry spells (and  heat waves). SAS has been flushing this practice out and notifying the public when it happens.

We all need to get our own houses in order. The Environment Agency is on the prowl for “misconnections”. It  estimates 5% of houses have wrongly (or illegally) connected pipes from loos, sinks and washing machines, all taking pollutants into the clean water drain rather than the foul pipe (activists think the real number is far higher). Some of this is down to DIY plumbing;  some to deliberate cowboy building to save on cost and effort.

Brands love Big Ocean protection – a network of protected marine areas. For example Davidoff Cool Water is running a campaign with National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas Mission. With every bottle you purchase you help to protect 10,000 sq metres of ocean. Clicking on the Facebook page saves 5,000 sq metres.

We must also be vigilant about our loos. The advice is don’t use the bog as a bin. That includes wipes and cotton buds. Saving the seas begins at home.

If you have an ethical dilemma, send an email to Lucy at

A review of the performance of municipal waste incinerators in the UK

Download PDF : GreenpeaceUKIncinerator

Emissions from a mass-burn incinerator at Capel become a major concern for those living within 16 miles due north, north-east and east of the site

download : CAG_Infant_deaths_report(1)

Swift action vital to solve Hong Kong’s garbage crisis

Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 12:00am

CommentInsight & Opinion


SCMP Editorial

Garbage disposal in a wasteful city like Hong Kong has proved to be a challenge. After a series of setbacks in expanding the landfills, there is finally some good news for the government. Last week the High Court ruled against a resident who was trying to stop the construction of a massive offshore waste incinerator on an island south of Lantau. The judge dismissed claims that the environmental impact assessment was flawed, saying the proposed mitigation measures met the relevant requirements.

The ruling is no doubt a relief for environment chief Wong Kam-sing. The beleaguered minister was dealt a heavy blow when he failed to push through proposals to expand three near-saturated landfills early this month. It remains unclear when the HK$15 billion incinerator project will be tabled to Legco again, barring a possible appeal by the resident. But Wong must be happy to see the green study upheld in court. It is to be hoped that the ruling will remove the uncertainties ahead and give officials a firm legal footing to move forward.

However, it would be naive to assume plain sailing ahead. Like landfill expansion, incineration is unpopular. But they are essential components of the city’s waste management strategy, along with a future garbage disposal charge. If the landfill proposals are anything to go by, the proposed incinerator will run into plenty of objections. There may be less opposition from residents because of the offshore location, but the impact on public health remains a major concern. The involvement of massive land reclamation in a marine habitat for finless porpoises is also bound to stir controversy.

The incinerator will take eight years to build. With the landfill expansion in limbo and the waste disposal charge not in place until 2016, it makes sense to get on with the project sooner rather than later. Officials should carefully assess the situation and re-table funding requests for the incinerator and landfills in due course. Residents and lawmakers should also drop their not-in-my-backyard mentality and support the plans.