HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong Airport officially launched a new third runway on Friday, which is expected to cement the city’s status as an aviation hub.
Hong Kong’s Airports Authority said about 140 flights a day are already using the new runway, which has been operational since early July.
However, the airport still only uses two runways, as the center runway was closed for reconfiguration in July.
The airport is also expanding Terminal 2 and building a new concourse and baggage handling system.
The work is expected to be completed in 2024, after which the airport will use all three runways, creating more flying capacity. According to Jack So, chairman of the airport authority, the entire project will cost HK$145 billion ($18.5 billion).
“The project was funded from the private market and no government funding is involved,” it said at the launch ceremony.
Brendan Sobie, an independent aviation analyst based in Singapore, said that when all three runways are functional, more planes can land during peak hours, increasing the airport’s capacity.
“You have to have that capability, that infrastructure, because if others have something that you don’t have, you start to lose,” Soby said.
He said several other airports in Asia, including Bangkok and Jakarta, are working on a third runway or have already added one.
The additional runway in Hong Kong will also help with cargo development.
The city eased pandemic travel restrictions last month, allowing entry and exit without mandatory quarantine. However, regular COVID-19 testing must take place on arrival for incoming passengers.
Jane Hsu and Alice Fung, The Associated Press