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Strategy for third runway disputed

Former director of civil aviation Albert Lam Kwong-yu has challenged the government to show him the whole air traffic management agreement with the mainland and Macau governments, adding he does not trust the current director.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said on Tuesday the airspace problem that could have an impact on the new third runway to be built at a cost of HK$141.5 billion by 2023 if it can start construction next year could be solved by coordination among the three governments.

Cheung was asked on a radio program about comments made by Lam and a former civil aviation director, Peter Lok Kung-nam, that without additional airspace a third runway would not meet its expansion target.

Cheung said the two former directors had left their posts many years ago and did not understand the current situation.

He was confident the local and mainland authorities could resolve the issue involving the airspace in the Pearl River Delta so that the Chek Lap Kok airport can achieve its target of 102 flights per hour, compared with the current 68, when the runway is built.

But Lam said he could not trust civil aviation director Norman Lo Shung-man.

“Show me what you have done in the agreement,” Lam told iCable last night.

Shenzhen will have three runways while Guangzhou will have five, said Cheung.

Lok told TVB last night there would be less room for Shenzhen to share its airspace in the future.

“It [Shenzhen] has three runways, and Hong Kong will also have three runways; both are rivals and you cannot assume that Hong Kong can get the airspace and commence the work now. The risk is too high.”

Lok suggested that real-time testing be done using a computer for a year to collect more data before starting the project.

Former Hong Kong Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying also cast doubt on the cost-effectiveness and financing plan for the third runway as the airspace in the Pearl River Delta is already too busy to accommodate more flights.

The Civil Aviation Department will soon conduct research on optimizing efficiency, a source close to the government said. A scientific study will also begin in which different scenarios will be evaluated.

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