May 7, 2021

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Hong Kong’s $18BN Airport Expansion Explained

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In the 1990s hong kong needed to replace its outdated airport the only problem was the same problem that always comes up in a densely developed city that’s surrounded by mountains where do you put it well the answer was

actually to make the city bigger and hong kong reclaimed 10 square kilometers of ocean before building what was then the world’s largest airport terminal on top of it 20 years later that airport is itself now approaching capacity and 18 billion us dollars is being spent to expand it and the city once again when it opened in 1998 hong kong international airport was one of the most advanced in the world built on a man-made island the buildings and transport connections were world-class while a dual runway layout left 28 million passengers to pass through the airport in its first year alone handed back to China by the British

in 1997 hong kong was uniquely positioned to act as a bridge for western companies looking to get into those emerging chinese markets this and the fact that it sits less that five hours flight from nearly half the world’s population pushed passenger and freight volumes to the extreme

the construction of a satellite concourse and second terminal in 2007 as well as a midfield concourse in 2011 didn’t really solve the problem and the need to think a bit bigger became clear after a three-year study and a rejected plan to try and increase the airport’s capacity by simply improving operational efficiency a new three-runway system was adopted

the immense project known as masterplan 2030 is basically like constructing an entirely new airport next to the existing one there’ll be a 3.8 kilometer new runway on reclaimed land enabling a hundred million passengers and some nine million tons of cargo to pass through the airport each year once complete the new runway will take over operations from the existing north runway while it’s reconfigured to allow runway 3 arrivals to access terminal 1 without having to cross the center runway a 280 000 square meter new passenger concourse will support it

linking to a reconfigured and expanded terminal 2 by a 2.6 kilometer extension to the automated people mover or apm running between terminal 2 and the new concourse the apm will transport up to 10 800 passengers each hour behind the scenes they’ll also be a new 500 million us dollar high speed baggage handling system that can move bags three times faster and smart tech to streamline the departure process with an additional 30 million passengers using the airport each year the existing road and transport systems will be expanded increasing connections to the city proper and mainland china to accommodate

All this a further 6.5 square kilometers of land will be reclaimed from the sea directly north of the existing airport due to environmental concerns over contaminated soil and increased shortages of materials like marine sand the land will be built with a process known as deep cement mixing this involves injecting cement into soft or contaminated soil stabilizing it and removing the need for environmentally damaging dredging to take place before material is added to raise the land above sea level with the land reclamation phase now nearing completion work on the above ground infrastructure is about to start despite the collapse

In international travel during 2020 and the ongoing uncertainty work has progressed and passenger numbers are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels well before the project’s completion in 2024 set to contribute 4.6 of hong kong’s entire gdp by 2030 this aviation mega project is the key the city’s future competitiveness and role in the global economy.

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