Hong Kong, mainland China and Macau ‘remain committed’ to city’s third runway, says transport minister
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on March 9, 2016.
Despite the controversy surrounding Hong Kong’s planned third runway system, the city’s transport and housing secretary said that the parties involved “remain committed” to achieving their goals.
Critics say that the project, which has yet to begin construction, will lead to clashes with Shenzhen and Macau flight paths and cause regional airspace problems that could affect flights in the area.
At a ceremony marking the establishment of Hong Kong Airline’s new flight training centre, transport minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said that Hong Kong, mainland China and Macau’s aviation authorities recently met, and that “so far the dialogue has been very positive”.
“As far as the airspace is concerned, there has been ongoing discussion among the three jurisdictions,” Cheung said, adding that the three sides are working to enhance airspace management in the region.
“We are now proceeding smoothly through technical discussions as to how to implement those measures which are to be conducted, to be introduced,” he said.
Cheung did not disclose when construction of the runway would begin, but said that it would be after “some procedural issues” are resolved. The Hong Kong Airport Authority is in charge of the project.
“The three sides remain committed to achieving those objectives because the optimisation of PRD (Pearl River Delta) space is important to all airports in the region,” Cheung said.
“Unless we are able to achieve optimisation, the expansion of various airports within the PRD will be affected,” he added.
Ben Wong, chief operating officer at Hong Kong Airlines, said that the airline expects to see 7 million passengers in 2016, up from 5.6 million in 2015. He added that the drop in mainland tourists would not affect business operations “too much”.
Wong said the travelling needs of mainland passengers were “continuously going up”, adding that he thinks this will continue for the rest of the year.