HONG KONG, Feb. 26 -- Hong Kong's Financial Secretary John Tsang said Wednesday that the government is assisting the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) to press ahead with planning for a three-runway system which is hoped to be in use in 2023.
When delivering the 2014-15 budget speech, Tsang said that Hong Kong, as a major international aviation center, currently has nearly 110 air carriers operating about 7,100 scheduled flights per week to and from almost 180 cities.
And as one of the world's busiest airports, the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok handled almost 60 million passengers and more than 4.1 million tons of air cargo last year, he said, adding that the hourly flight movements of the two existing runways will increase from the current 65 to 68 next year.
"The (three-runway) project, estimated to cost over 100 billion HK dollars (12.89 billion U.S. dollars), will foster our long-term economic development and enhance our competitiveness," Tsang said.
The AA is conducting the environmental impact assessment with a view to securing approval this year in order to take forward the project as soon as possible for commissioning in 2023.
As for landway transport network, Tsang mentioned that upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in 2016, the development potential of Lantau Island will be significantly enhanced as the island transforms from the western end of Hong Kong into the center of the Pearl River Delta (PRD).
It will then take one hour to travel from Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai, three hours to most of the major towns and cities of the Western PRD. The increased connectivity will help facilitate people flows and logistics connectivity between Hong Kong and neighboring areas.
Moreover, upon completion of work next year, the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) will reduce the journey time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong to 48 minutes, bringing together Hong Kong's seven-million people metropolitan area and a market of 60 million people, Tsang said.
The XRL will also give passengers easy access to the mainland's 16 000 km high-speed railway network to all the major cities, he added. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.76 HK dollars)