World Travel Awards, the leading authority that recognises and rewards excellence in tourism, has revealed its Asia and Oceania 2021 winners.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has much to celebrate, having been recognised as among the best in the region by voters.
Here Breaking Travel News speaks to Vivian Cheung, executive director of airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport, to find out how it feels to have won.
Breaking Travel News: Congratulations on your victory at the World Travel Awards – with Hong Kong International Airport having taken the title of Asia’s Leading Airport. How does it feel to have won?
Vivian Cheung: We are honoured to be named as the Asia’s Leading Airport in the World Travel Awards for two consecutive years.
It is a testimony to our collective efforts at HKIA in maintaining the excellent service quality over the years.
The entire airport community works closely together to uphold our professionalism and commitment to maintaining smooth and efficient operations at HKIA, and providing safe and pleasant journeys to travellers.
Breaking Travel News: What was it that separated you from your competitors in this field, what was it that caught the eye of voters?
VC: In addition to the extensive air network and the unique geographical advantage, the continuous enhancements at HKIA enable us to distinguish ourselves among competitors.
HKIA has been actively applying latest technologies with a view to enhancing passenger experience and operational efficiency.
We have been using biometrics and facial recognition technologies for the check-in and boarding procedures to provide a touchless and seamless airport journey for our passengers.
Other innovative technologies such as 5G infrastructure, digital apron management system, autonomous electric tractor and cleaning robots are also adopted to further enhance the operation efficiency and passenger experience at HKIA.
Terminal 1 at HKIA is undergoing major enhancements to provide passengers with new vibrant experiences.
The enhancement project will introduce new features including themed boarding areas, a children play area in the restricted area, as well as a dedicated recreational zone featuring new technologies for travellers, and a new roof garden for passengers to relax in green, open-air spaces.
The Sky Bridge, the world’s longest airside bridge under construction at HKIA that connects Terminal 1 and the North Satellite Concourse, will significantly reduce passengers’ travelling time between the two buildings and contributes to the relentless drive for service excellence at our airport.
HKIA has been handling the world’s highest international air cargo volume since 1996.
HKIA’s state-of-the-art facilities, high efficiency and reliability, extensive connectivity, special goods handling capability, coupled with Hong Kong’s free port status and streamlined customs process, give Hong Kong a strong competitive advantage in the global supply chain.
Pharmaceuticals is a key growth area in the air cargo business.
The Covid-19 pandemic is driving a huge demand for vaccines transportation.
Starting February, HKIA has been handling the shipment of different Covid-19 vaccines.
HKIA is one of the few airports in the world to be recognised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a Partner Airport of IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma).
The accreditation validates that HKIA, together with all three cargo terminals, all three ramp handling operators, and the home-based carrier, Cathay Pacific, have the expertise to handle the entire airside pharmaceutical transportation process end-to-end, from the time an aircraft lands to releasing the pharmaceuticals to agents, and vice versa.
All three cargo terminals at HKIA have also attained World Health Organisation (WHO)‘s Good Distribution Practices for Pharmaceutical Products Certification.
Despite the impact on air traffic caused by the pandemic, HKIA has spared no effort in developing long term infrastructure and enhancing existing facilities as part of our preparation for air travel recovery.
Various projects are in the pipeline, such as the construction of the Three-runway System which is almost equal to building a new airport next to the existing one, and an array of works under the Airport City developments.
We remain confident in the long-term prospects of the aviation industry.
Breaking Travel News: How useful are accolades such as the World Travel Awards when it comes to promoting Hong Kong International Airport?
VC: It is a prestigious recognition of our efforts in enhancing the passengers experience and reaffirms HKIA’s position as a leading international hub.
Breaking Travel News: What do we have to look forward to from the airport as the tourism market in China gradually recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic – what headlines can we expect from the coming months?
VC: To further reinforce our status as a leading international aviation hub, HKIA is developing into an Airport City which not only manages flows of passengers and cargo, but an entity with novel functions including retail and entertainment, tourism, convention and exhibition, among others.
HKIA is developing into a Three-runway System (3RS).
Besides the construction of a new runway, the project includes a series of support facilities such as an expanded Terminal 2, a new T2 Concourse, new automated people mover and baggage handling systems.
The new runway has its pavement completed and is expected to commence operations in 2022.
Upon its completion, the existing north runway will be closed for reconfiguration.
With the targeted completion of the entire 3RS in 2024, the quantum leap in capacity will enable HKIA to cater for the long-term air traffic demand and strengthen its status as an international aviation hub.
Skycity is an integral part of the Airport City development, which houses the largest integrated complex for retail, dining and entertainment facilities in Hong Kong.
Completing in phases from 2022 to 2025, the 11 Skies complex will introduce over 800 shops with more than 120 dining concepts and Hong Kong’s largest indoor entertainment area.
There will also be three Grade A office buildings, catering specially for companies providing wealth management as well as wellness and medical services.
The first hotel in Skycity, Regala Skycity Hotel, is scheduled to open this year, providing around 1,200 rooms.
HKIA provides convenient land and sea connections to and from the GBA for passengers to take advantage of the extensive flight network of HKIA.
To make the transfer journey at HKIA even more seamless, construction of a new transfer terminal, the Skypier Terminal, and a bonded bridge-link has started.
It will allow transfer passengers travelling on the HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) to enter the airport’s restricted area directly, without having to go via immigration procedures in Hong Kong.
Upon completion of this project in 2022, passengers who have obtained boarding passes and checked in their baggage at our remote terminals in the GBA may proceed directly to the boarding gates, as if they are using their local airport.
Through the transformation into an Airport City, HKIA is targeted to develop into a new landmark for both travellers and local visitors, and an engine driving the economic development in HK and the GBA.
Find out more about Hong Kong International Airport on the official website.