August 10, 2022
Check Out Hong Kong International’s New Third Runway

Check Out Hong Kong International’s New Third Runway

DALLAS – Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok International Airport (HKG) has officially opened its new third runway for aircraft operations today.

Flagship carrier Cathay Pacific’s (CX) Boeing 747-400F freighter inbound from Shanghai (PVG) was the first to burn rubber on the new tarmac. The entire runway project was a sum of HK$141.5 bn (US$18bn), costly indeed as it just wasn’t just laying the runway but also the reclamation of land from the sea – approximately 1600 acres.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Augustus Tang, commented, “We are delighted to be the first airline to operate a commercial flight using the new third runway, and for that flight to be operated by the ‘Queen of the Skies’, one of our 747 freighters. Our freighter fleet has played a pivotal role in keeping essential supplies, notably vaccines and testing kits, moving between Hong Kong and the rest of the world throughout the pandemic.”

CX 747F First Landing | Photo:

A Decade in Planning

The plan to bring in the third runway under the three-runway system dates back to 2012 when the original proposal was given the green light by the Hong Kong government.

HKG’s third runway now complements its previous two as 07L/25R. Under the 3RS project besides the runway itself, it aims at the expansion of Terminal 2, development of a new T2 Concourse, Automatic People Mover and Baggage Handling System, and is targeted to complete in 2024 as scheduled.

The third runway was simply a must as the other two were operating beyond their capacity and now with three runways collectively,  it is estimated that the airport would be able to handle a maximum of 620,000 flights per year (102 per hour, or about one flight every 36 seconds). The new runway is 3800m long and 60m wide.

Final prep and inspection of the new runway | Image

Heated Competition

HKG has been dropping places and is no longer Asia’s key hub ever since the pandemic struck. Only 545,000 passengers passed through the airport in the first five months of 2022 versus 31.4 million in the same period of 2019. Singapore’s Changi (SIN) is back on track, as is India’s New Delhi (DEL).

But will the new runway be enough to bring the airport back to the top? It sounds rather unlikely.

To further compete, the airport is to build a massive commercial complex with several stores and eateries aimed at increasing revenue, the project comes with a price tag of HK$20bn ($2.55bn).

Fred Lam Tin-fuk, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong, said it will take at least two to three years to complete the construction of complementary infrastructure for the Three-runway System project, further consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub.

HKG is expected to handle over 120 million passengers and around 10 million metric tons of cargo by 2035, Lam said in an interview as stated on China Economic Net.

Featured image: Hong Kong Airport

EASA commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer based in Germany.

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