Air Transport World

1997: pivotal year in Hong Kong: new airport project, the world's biggest civil-works undertaking ever, to open as Britain's rule ends. (Chek Lap Kok Airport)(includes article on Kai Tak Airport cargo traffic)

New airport project, the world's biggest civil-works undertaking ever, to open as Britain's rule ends.

Hong Kong-If all goes as planned, Hong Kong's new international airport should open in early 1997-just in time for the scheduled takeover of the British crown colony by the Peoples Republic of China.

The coincidence of both events happening in the same year, however, is just that-a coincidence, with the opening date of the airport being more economical than political. According to Hong Kong government figures, an average air-traffic growth rate of 5.5% at Hong Kong's current Kai Tak airport will cause saturation by 1996, after which it will cause an estimated $12.9 billion in lost revenues over the next 14 years, or an average of $92 million per ear.

The year 1997 just happens to be (1) the earliest a new airport can be built and (2) the year in which Britain's 99-year lease expires.

The site of the new airport definitely has been determined as Chek Lap Kok, a small island just off the larger island of Lantau, due west of Hong Kong. The smaller island will be completely leveled, with the dirt being used to help fill in the small bay and causeway between the two islands. Once completed, Chek Lap Kok actually will be a part of Lantau.

The island plus the reclaimed area will give the airport a total area of about 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres or roughly 4 sq. mi.). This is about half the size of New York JFK but four times the size of New York LaGuardia or Hong Kong Kai Tak, and about the same size as London Heathrow. …

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