Cathay Pacific Airways today gave its full and unequivocal backing for the building of a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport, stating it was the only effective way to address the airport’s capacity constraints and ensure the long-term competitiveness of the Hong Kong hub.
The airline’s statement came as public consultation begins over the two options put forward by the Airport Authority Hong Kong in its Hong Kong International Airport Master Plan 2030. Option 1 proposes to enhance the capacity of the two runways while Option 2 proposes the building of a third runway.
Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar said: “Cathay Pacific firmly supports Option 2. We believe the third runway is of critical importance to the sustainability of the Hong Kong economy and, therefore, to the long-term prosperity and well-being of Hong Kong people. We believe the need for it is urgent and becoming increasingly so. Connectivity with the rest of the world has made Hong Kong what it is today so we must be clear on how we can maintain and grow these linkages for tomorrow.”
Mr Slosar said that HKIA is “a victim of its own success” and that its two runways face traffic saturation 15-20 years before the original blueprint forecast of 2040.
“The airport already faces a fundamental challenge regarding runway capacity. The existing runways are already so heavily used through most of the operating day that finding take off and landing slots for additional flights is increasingly difficult.
“As the airport becomes busier and busier, the capacity of the two runways will soon be saturated. Hong Kong is facing a very real danger of giving away its competitive advantage if it does not move quickly and decisively on the need to build the third runway,” Mr Slosar said.
Cathay Pacific believes that a third runway is the only viable way to ensure the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong as an important international financial, trading and logistics, tourism and professional services hub.
“There is no time to be lost. Even if we were to take a decision today to build a third runway, it would take 10 or more years to see it operational. The airport will reach its capacity well before any new third runway can be commissioned,” Mr Slosar said.
According to the HKIA Master Plan, a third runway would be able to handle a practical maximum capacity of 620,000 flight movements per year. This would meet and go beyond the traffic demand forecast of 602,000 in 2030.
Option 1 requires further investment in terminal and apron facilities. This would enable the airport to handle a practical maximum capacity of 420,000 flight movements per year, but this would only meet the estimated demand for air services in the medium term.
“This is simply not a practical solution to the problem and is, at best, an expensive stop-gap measure,” Mr Slosar said.
Mr Slosar pointed out that the economic and social benefits of the third runway need to be carefully balanced with environmental, engineering and funding considerations.
“Cathay Pacific welcomes HKAA’s approach in consulting the Hong Kong community widely on the two options it has put forward in its Master Plan,” he said.