Hong Kong Airport Completes 3rd Runway On Reclaimed Land

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has completed the construction of a third runway as part of an $18.2 billion expansion project. The new runway is expected to be ready for use in 2022, around six years after the construction project began.

Hong Kong International Airport has completed the construction of its third runway. Photo: Getty Images

Third runway at Hong Kong Airport completed

A third runway at Hong Kong International Airport, extending 3.8km across reclaimed land, has been completed. The Three-Runway System (3RS) project aims to boost Hong Kong’s air capacity with a third runway and additional facilities. The new runway will increase HKIA’s passenger capacity to 120 million per year and freight capacity to 10 million tonnes annually.

At a topping-off ceremony on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said,

“The Three-runway System (3RS) is an integral part of our vision to transform from a ‘city airport’ into an ‘Airport City.'”

Hong Kong Airport Completes 3rd Runway On Reclaimed Land
The third runway is expected to be operational next year. Photo: Getty Images

The third runway is set for a partial launch in 2022. The runway is 3.8km long and 60 meters wide, with around 14,000 ground lights to guide aircraft. While the runway is set to become partially operational next year, other aspects of the 3RS project, such as terminal and infrastructure expansions, aren’t expected to be ready until 2024.

Project bosses say they have now reached the halfway point of the expansion project, which began in 2016 but has been in the works since 2011.

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An ambitious expansion project

Construction of the third runway is only one part of HKIA’s ambitious mega-airport expansion project, which is worth an estimated $18.2 billion. Over 650 hectares of land north of HKIA have been reclaimed for the expansion project, with about 90% of reclamation works now complete.

Other facets of the project include the development of an entertainment, shopping and office complex to realize the project’s vision of an ‘Airport City.’ The airport also plans to set up premium logistics facilities, rebuild a second terminal and add an automated people mover between Terminal Two and the new facility.

Cathay Pacific plane Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport was running at full capacity before the COVID pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

Carrie Lam added,

“According to an earlier forecast, 3RS will generate direct, indirect and induced contributions of about 5% of the gross domestic product of Hong Kong by 2030. It demonstrates that 3RS would inject impetus to HKIA, as well as the overall Hong Kong economy in the future.”

Before the COVID pandemic, HKIA’s two runways were already exceeding their capacity of 420,000 flights per year. The expansion project is one of several in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, including Singapore’s Terminal 5 development and Sydney’s new Western Sydney airport.

Will Hong Kong open up to travelers?

Travel restrictions in Hong Kong have been amongst the toughest globally since the outbreak of the pandemic. The city’s ‘Zero Covid’ approach has kept cases to a minimum but is taking its toll economically. The aviation sector has been hit particularly hard, with passenger numbers still at unprecedented lows.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong recently loosened restrictions on travelers from mainland China. Photo: Getty Images

Yesterday, Hong Kong announced it would be easing restrictions on travelers from mainland China. Visitors from China will no longer need to quarantine, although this will be capped to 2,000 people per day. Hong Kong continues to mandate 7-14 day quarantines for visitors, increasing to 21 days for visitors from high-risk areas.

Are you happy to see HKIA’s expansion project moving forward? Do you think Hong Kong will continue to relax its travel restrictions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.