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Hong Kong International Airport Master Plan 2030

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The July event was of great interest to all members and was both very topical and controversial. Our speaker, Kevin Poole, Head of Projects with the Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) presented the Hong Kong International Airport Master Plan 2030. His keynote presentation related to the long awaited third runway proposal. The event was held at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on 19th July 2011 with a very strong turnout of about 110 members and guests.

Kevin has over thirty years of experience in the building and civil engineering field, specializing in major infrastructure and transportation projects. For over fifteen years, he has been part of the Client organization with the project management team responsible for the design and construction at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). Currently, as General Manager, he is responsible for the planning, procurement and project management of all capital works projects undertaken by HKAA.

HKIA is an international aviation hub and an engine of economic growth for Hong Kong. In 2008, the economic contribution generated by the aviation industry amounted to HK$78 billion in value added, or 4.6% of Hong Kong gross domestic product (GDP). It created 62,000 direct jobs and 124,000 indirect and induced jobs. HKAA continues to invest in infrastructure, facilities and systems to enhance the airport service quality. It has recently released the Hong Kong International Master Plan 2030, which is reviewed and updated every five years. The Plan outlines two development options for public consultation, the main theme of the presentation.

The three-month consultation from 3rd June to 2nd September 2011 is being conducted by the Social Sciences Research Centre of the Hong Kong University. The consultation exercise is intended to solicit views of stakeholders and public on the airports future development direction. In the year of its opening in 1998, the airport handled 28.6 million passengers and 1.6 million tonnes of cargo, with 450 air traffic movements (ATMs) per day to about 120 destinations. In 2010, the level of throughput had grown to 50.9 million passengers and 4.1 million tonnes of cargo. Currently, over 95 airlines provide services to about 160 destinations, operating 860 ATMs per day. It is estimated air traffic demand would reach about 97 million passengers, 8.9 million tonnes of cargo and 1,650 ATMs per day (or 602,000 flight movements per year) by 2030. Such dramatic increase in demand is well beyond the runway capacity of the existing two-runway system.

To meet the increasing air traffic demand up to and possibly beyond 2030, according to Kevin, two different options have been examined. Option1 is to maintain the existing two-runway system but to further invest in terminal and apron facilities. The unique operational constraints are the mountains on Lantau, NW Kowloon and Northern New Territories. The maximum flight movements per hour for two runways are 68 or 420,000 per year. This option can only meet the requirements in the medium term but will reach its saturated capacity between 2019 and 2022. The adverse consequences of reaching capacity are the less choices of airlines, destinations, etc., higher air fares, greater inconvenience, longer transit time and delays, and HKIA being less attractive as an international hub. Option 2 is a three-runway system, under which there are 18 airport layout options. In expanding into a three-runway system, there will be land formation, new runway and taxiway system, road network and transportation facilities, etc. The new reclamation will amount to 650 Ha, compared to the existing 983 Ha. Two techniques are suggested. The Undredged with Vertical Drains Method will be used outside contaminated mud pit and the Deep Cement Mixing (DCM) Method will be used in the contaminated mud area. The latter has least impact to environment as dredging is not required but it is more expensive (additional cost of HK$9 billion). According to the critical path, opening of the third runway is scheduled for 8.5 years after the implementation of the Plan and the availability of the three-runway for operation is scheduled for about 12 years.

In comparison, economic analysis shows that Option 2 would cost HK$86.2 billion (Option 1: HK$23.4 billion) at the 2010 price level, or HK$136.2 billion (Option 1: HK$42.5 billion) at Money-Of-the-Day (MOD). Based on a study by Enright, Scott & Associates, Option 1 is less costly. An investment of HK$23 billion could increase HKIAs handling capacity by almost 30%, resulting in an Economic Net Present Value (ENPV) of HK$432 billion. Option 2 brings a projected ENPV of HK$912 billion, a much higher value-added ENPV in the long term. There are, however, environmental considerations or risks. Both options require compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Ordinance. Option 1 does not involve any reclamation. Hence, Option 2 poses greater impact on environmental issues. Physical and marine ecological environments would be adversely affected by the proposed reclamation. The reclamation could impact on Chinese White Dolphins, such as loss of habitat, disruption of breeding and calving areas. Other issues are aircraft noise and air quality impact of the airport activities. These issues are yet to be adequately addressed to minimize the environmental impacts.


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