HONG KONG– Hong Kong Airport officially launched a new third runway on Friday that is expected to bolster the city’s status as an aviation hub.
The Hong Kong Airports Authority said around 140 flights a day were already using the new runway, which has been in operation since early July.
However, the airport still only uses two runways as its central runway was closed in July for reconfiguration.
The airport is also expanding its Terminal 2 and building a new concourse and baggage handling system.
The work is expected to be completed by 2024, after which the airport will use all three runways, giving it more flight capacity. The whole project will cost 145 billion Hong Kong dollars ($18.5 billion), according to Jack So, chairman of the airport authority.
“The project was funded by the private market and it does not involve any government money,” So said at the launch ceremony. “It proves that the international financial community, banking industry and funds have confidence in Hong Kong and its airport.”
Brendan Sobie, an independent aviation analyst based in Singapore, said when all three runways are operational, it will allow more planes to land during peak hours, increasing the airport’s capacity.
“You need that capability, that infrastructure, because you would start losing if others had something that you don’t have,” Sobie said.
He noted that several other airports in Asia, including Bangkok and Jakarta, are working on a third runway or have already added one.
The additional Hong Kong runway will also facilitate cargo growth.
The city eased pandemic travel restrictions last month, allowing inbound and outbound travel without mandatory quarantine. However, incoming travelers must undergo a regular COVID-19 test upon arrival.