Top cargo hub considers expansion

HONG Kong International Airport (HKIA), the world’s biggest hub for cargo, is evaluating the need for a third runway to accommodate the rise in freight traffic.

During the first quarter of 2011 cargo volume rose to 944,000 tonnes.

National airline Cathay Pacific also became the world’s largest international air cargo carrier. Cathay chief executive John Slosar says Hong Kong has become a victim of its own success as the two runways are likely to be insufficient to meet demand by 2020, rather than 10 or 20 years after that, as previously thought.

An increase in passengers and a new one-day record of 1,003 flights are putting on the pressure for a third runway. Cargo airlines say that in order to stay competitive the third runway must be built.

Every development is not without its controversy. To build a third runway would involve reclamation of 6.5km2. This means the runway would be built on areas currently in the sea, which could have a negative impact on the endangered white dolphin.

The new runway is expected to cost about 80 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$10.3 billion). A public consultation period has just begun.

HKIA overtook Memphis (US) as the world’s biggest air cargo hub in 2010 due to exports from southern China’s Pearl River Delta.

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