Chairman's Message
Chairman's Message - Three-runway System Takes Care of Both Economic and Environmental Benefits

Dr. Charles Yeung 【President】

Silver Bauhinia Star, JP

An efficient and competitive international airport is of crucial importance for Hong Kong as a hub for global commerce and trade. Nevertheless, the existing two-runway system of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) in Chek Lap Kok will reach its full capacity in a few years’ time. The airport is also facing the challenges from other international airports in neighboring regions. CGCC has all along supported the early construction of a third runway, which can boost HKIA’s capacity and efficiency. On the other hand, we are concerned about the environmental implications of the new runway construction project. Earlier on, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has completed an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project. Proposed in the EIA report were some measures that should be able to mitigate the project’s impacts on the environment and the marine ecosystem, and thus foster harmony between economic development and environmental conservation.

Building New Runway ASAP to Meet Growing Demand

The globally renowned HKIA’s prime location, extensive aviation network and highly efficient operation provide an important platform for passengers and cargoes in transit between Hong Kong and the rest of the world. According to the latest AAHK figures for the first half of 2014, both passenger volume and cargo throughput of HKIA rose by 6.3% year on year to 30.8 million people and 2.1 million tons respectively, while flight movements climbed by 5.7% to 191,000. Now there are more than 100 airlines in Hong Kong offering flight services to and from 180 destinations worldwide. Not only that, the airport directly employs more than 65,000 people, while indirectly creating a lot of job opportunities for the hotel, F&B, retail, tourism and other sectors.

Thanks to the rapid economic development of Mainland China and East Asia in recent years, HKIA will benefit from the huge business opportunities arising from closer connections among neighboring regions. With the completion of the many cross-border infrastructure projects in its vicinity, which include the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link, HKIA’s role as a transport hub will be more prominent and it will attract more aviation businesses demand. Hong Kong’s air traffic demand is expected to keep growing and gradually reach the maximum handling capacity of HKIA. Reportedly, many airlines had planned to add flights traveling to and from Hong Kong this summer, but most applications made for the purpose were rejected due to the extremely tight schedules for aircraft movements during peak hours at HKIA. Therefore, we urges for prompt confirmation for the construction of the third runway in order that HKIA can formulate long-term, sustainable development strategies to cater the emerging business and trade needs in the region.

Measures Mitigating Environment Impacts

While supporting the new runway construction, CGCC also pays much attention to the impacts it may cause to the environment. We recognize that AAHK has made a comprehensive EIA report that has not only assessed the impacts on 12 key areas (e.g. air quality, noise, ecology and health) but also proposed over 250 measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate and compensate for the potential environmental impacts. We are convinced that the measures would effectively reduce the possibility of the environment and health being affected during the construction and operation of the three-runway system to an acceptable level.

We believe the expansion of HKIA into a three-runway system can effectively strike a balance between economic and environmental benefits. For example, the EIA report pointed out that the night-time operations of the south runway can be minimized with the support of a new runway in the north, and the aircraft noise impact to populated areas can be minimized by increasing the flexibility in flight tracks usage. The report also recommended shortening aircraft taxiing and holding times to reduce aircraft emissions.

In our opinion, the authorities may as well elaborate on the implementation progress and effectiveness of the measures, making it clearer to the public that much emphasis is put on ecological and environmental protection in planning and building the new runway. Hopefully, the project can set a role model in promoting Hong Kong’s long-term sustainable development.

In conclusion, we are in favor of building the third runway as soon as possible, which can provide more comprehensive support for airport operation and the growth of aviation businesses in Hong Kong. We look forward to all sectors in society working together to put the EIA-recommended environmental protection measures into practice. Let’s devote our efforts to strengthening Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub while promoting overall sustainable development.