Cathay Pacific’s Third Runway at Hong Kong International Airport Is Now Open Swinging
Cathay Pacific officially inaugurated Hong Kong International Airport‘s third runway on Friday, November 25th. The runway greatly expands the airport’s capacity for cargo and passenger air traffic, allowing it to become even larger than before. It has been in use since July and services around 140 flights per day. Due to pandemic restrictions and scheduling conflicts, the official commissioning was put off until yesterday.
Runway commissionThe runway was formally commissioned at the airport in a ceremony with Cathay Pacific’s first A350 arriving. It landed after a lengthy flight from Perth, Australia. The arrival of flight CX170, CX170 from Perth, was welcomed with a water salute from the fire department.In response to the runway’s recent upgrade, capacity at the airport has significantly increased. The three runway system will dramatically increase the passenger and cargo handling capacity of Hong Kong International Airport. With the distinct advantages from its strong connections to both mainland China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong will maintain its status as an international aviation hub.
The size of an airport’s capacityThe airport has added fuel to the fire, considering that they’ve been expanding capacity as demand for air transit has continued to grow steadily over the past decade. When the pandemic hit, air transit levels dropped dramatically at Hong Kong International Airport. During this period, many cargo operations at the airport continued but passenger travel was almost non-existent. With COVID-19 numbers declining, travel restrictions have eased and more passengers can now travel around the world via airplane once again. Hong Kong’s perennially busy international airport is experiencing a comeback, albeit with restrictions. Footfall at the airport already sits at 60% and will grow to 70% by the end of 2023 with pre-pandemic numbers presumably reached in 2024, when the demand curve might jump or slow down. In the following years, airport executives expect it to continue growing and require an increase in capacity. In order not to miss that opportunity, they added a new runway.
Project developmentConstruction began on the new runway back in August of 2016. The runway will be 12,000 feet long, and it took approximately four years to construct. They used almost 1,600 acres of land in order to develop this runway. The project is part of a larger airport undertaking that needs to expand terminal 2’s capacity. Once the project is complete, they’ll have an additional concourse, automated people mover and baggage handling system. The total cost is estimated to be $18 billion dollars. The Airport Authority is funded solely by the private sector and does not receive any government funding. This makes it unique from other airports as major airports usually get their funding from the government. “The project was funded entirely by private investors. This means that the international financial community, banking sector, and funds are confident of Hong Kong and its airport.”