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Should Hong Kong build a third airport runway?

By Vanessa Ko | December 31, 2011, 12:03 AM PST

HONG KONG – Airport Authority Hong Kong said Hong Kong International Airport
will need to add a new runway – it’s third – in order to meet future demands
of cargo and passenger traffic.

But its proposal will cost taxpayers $17 billion, after factoring in
inflation, making it the city’s most expensive infrastructure project yet.

Critics are calling for a thorough environmental assessment before any
decision is made, but time constraints will make such a report unlikely: the
government will decide over the next few months whether to give the proposal
the green light.

Hong Kong’s airport has the most world’s most air-cargo traffic and last
year was third in terms of international air passenger flow, behind London
and Paris.

The two existing runways are expected to be saturated in use by 2020 if a
third one is not added. The new runway would be built on reclaimed land
extending from the airport’s location on Lantau Island.

To further bolster the proposal, the AAHK announced on Thursday that a
survey of the public found three quarters of respondents support the
three-runway plan – a “clear consensus,” as the AAHK said in a statement.

Few question that the addition is necessary for Hong Kong to maintain its
hub status. It is estimated that the project would also help bring in $117
billion in economic benefits over 50 years until 2061. These benefits
include the creation of thousands of jobs.

But critics say overall benefits are diminished by environmental drawbacks.

The Civic Party, a liberal democratic party, has called for a detailed
environmental assessment. Such a study would measure the effect that
construction and dredging might have on surrounding waters (populated by
rare dolphins that are cute to boot) as well as the level of noise pollution
for residents in the area.

WWF in Hong Kong has questioned whether evolving carbon-tax rules might
lower the expected demand for flights, and has expressed concern over
increased greenhouse gases as a result of busier aviation traffic.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Toyotaboy95

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Donald Tsang empire building – never mind the air we breathe

The PRD mega companies like Foxconn have moved out to Chongqing and Hubei.
PRD workers from Jan 1st will have a pay increase mandated again. The
aircargo that used to come from PRD to world airports via HKG is now far
reduced. The aircargo in 2011 was down 18+% on the previous year.They intend
to build a fast rail tunnel between HK airport and Shenzhen airport. This is
a good idea since Shenzhen has more domestic flights than HK to China
airports. Meanwhile UPS has based its asian hub at Shenzhen airport 50 kms
from HK. Shenzhen’s second runway is in operation and they are building a
third. Federal Express asian hub is in Guangzhou which intends to have 5
runways. In order to fuel the HK airport with cargo the HK Govt decided on
another white elephant (beyond the white elephant fast rail to nowhere 30kms
east of Guangzhou) – that is the HK Zhuhai Macau road traffic only bridge.
This is to connect the HK Government’s (through its full owned subsidiary
Airport Authority of Hong Kong) 55% joint venture stake in Zhuhai airport
which has no international flights. Meanwhile all the landing slots in the
PRD are controlled by China’s military and HKG has failed so far to get any
approval of additional landing slots from them.
For the first time in years (because the HK Civil Aviation Authority refuses
to hire skilled competent air traffic controllers from overseas) there were
three near misses on Chep Lap Kok approaches in 2011. Meanwhile HK has the
eighth worst PM2.5 particulate matter suspended in air, in the world already
and Tsang has done next to zero to rid Hong Kong of its pathetic air quality
other than to further pander to the construction tycoons.

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