Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is ploughing ahead with a third runway plus related infrastructure, as well as recently announced plans to build a massive 380,000 m2 logistics centre and a mega-sized shopping-and-entertainment complex – but Fred Lam, CEO of operator Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) is confident that the Asia-Pacific hub has not over-extended itself.
Speaking exclusively to Jane’s during the ACI World Annual Congress & 28th ACI Europe Annual Congress in Brussels,18–20 June, he conceded that the approaching wave of new passenger, cargo, and retail facilities does require careful management.
“As the operator, we have to make sure that the passenger experience remains positive. We can’t let that deteriorate,” Lam said. “We will have to use more technology for flow control, to generate shorter queues. We are deploying visual recognition technologies in August and will be developing more mobile check-in counters that allow us to handle rising demand.”
Passenger volume at HKIA exceeded 73 million in 2017, with 3–4% growth predicted in the near term. Once the Third Runway System project is completed, AAHK predicts annual traffic of 94–95 million in 2024, rising to 100 million soon thereafter.
Until then, HKIA must continue to wring the most out of its two capacity-saturated runways. “We are working with CAD [the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department] to see how to enhance them by, for instance, applying some of the practices done in Europe,” Lam noted. “We have to be able to handle these volumes, and we’re mapping things to do better predictive modelling such as the use of data analytics to direct [aircraft and passenger flow] traffic at the airport. We are deploying a lot of the latest 4G [wireless telecommunications technology] to do this.”
Regarding the reclamation of 650 ha of harbour space for the new runway and facilities, Lam admitted there are public fears “about the pollutive impact on the surrounding sea.
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