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March 17th, 2015:

Government approves plan for third runway

The government has given its approval for a third runway at Chek Lap Kok.

The decision was welcomed by the Airport Authority, which said expanding the airport was crucial to consolidating Hong Kong as an aviation hub.

The Secretary for Transport, Anthony Cheung, said the estimated cost would be HK$141.5 billion. The project will be financed by the Airport Authority through internal funds, external borrowing, and charging passengers.

Professor Cheung noted that the airport charges at the Hong Kong were among the lowest studied in a consultancy report, so there was room to raise them further.

About 650 hectares of land will be reclaimed from the sea for the runway and a new passenger building. Construction is expected to be completed by 2023.

Hong Kong’s airport expects to reach maximum capacity under its current layout by 2022 at the latest.

Exco gives green light for Airport Authority to seek funding for third runway

The Executive Council on Tuesday gave airport officials the green light to seek funds and build a HK$141.5 billion third airport runway, despite widespread opposition from activists and environmental groups.

Taxpayers are to be spared any expense, with funding to come internally through the Airport Authority’s own “healthy” surpluses, airport charges for visitors and carriers, and external financing through bonds.

The airport will also forfeit annual dividends to the government – the authority’s biggest shareholder.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the airport was fast reaching maximum capacity and the third runway was needed to maintain the city’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Cheung said carrier charges at Chek Lap Kok were among the lowest in the world and there was room to raise them further.

Airport Authority chief Fred Lam Tin-fuk said the funding proposal was the fairest and most appropriate method based on a “user pays” principle.

He did not answer directly whether the financing plan was designed to bypass the Legislative Council finance committee. “We don’t think it is fair to make taxpayers pay for other visitors,” he said.

Source URL (modified on Mar 17th 2015, 8:01pm):