Managing the flow of passenger, cargo, capital and information, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has well established itself as an important engine of economic growth for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, as well as a key contributor to Hong Kong's position being a leading aviation and logistics hub in the region.
The past few years saw healthy growth in passenger traffic. Annual passenger and cargo throughput reached 44.4 million and 3.6 million tonnes in 2006, up 9.1% and 5.2% over 2005, respectively. Air traffic movements of the same period increased 6.4%, to 280,000. As the world's fifth busiest international passenger airport and most active worldwide air cargo operation, HKIA sees nearly 800 aircraft take off and land every day. Over 85 airlines operate at HKIA, linking Hong Kong with more than 150 locations round the world, including some 40 cities on mainland China.
To keep our growth momentum in passenger and cargo, HKIA continues to execute the growth strategies to reach out to our redefined and enlarged home market which comprises Hong Kong and the 50 million people in PRD. To achieve this, we are committed to creating a multi-modal transportation network between the PRD and HKIA. For example, SkyPier - the cross-boundary ferry service - enables PRD passengers to travel via HKIA without going through the immigration and customs formalities to their destinations worldwide in a seamless and comfortable manner.
Currently, there are five PRD ports - Shekou and Fuyong of Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Macau - offering these speedy cross-boundary arrangements, while passengers can even pre-check their luggage at Shekou of Shenzhen. Under construction and scheduled to open in 2009, the permanent SkyPier will provide ferry service users with an enhanced facility. In addition to the cross-boundary ferry service, 240 coach trips are made every day to link HKIA with 160 drop-off locations in 70 cities and towns in the PRD. Passengers expecting even more comfort can use the cross-boundary limousine service - SkyLimo - which takes them to their PRD destinations fast and direct.
In light of globalisation and regional integration, it is equally crucial for HKIA to connect its extensive international connection with PRD airports' strong domestic air networks. The joint venture between Zhuhai Municipal People's Government and Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) to manage Zhuhai Airport for 20 years is the first major cooperation achieved between HKIA and PRD airports. It is also a milestone in forging an integrated PRD regional airport system.
To further enhance our integration beyond PRD, HKIA also pioneered in the formation of air-bridges with mainland airports. To this end, the joint venture between Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport Co. Ltd and AA is the first air-bridge formed to connect the two thriving economies of PRD and the Yangtze River Delta.
Apart from expanding its catchment areas and network, HKIA also understands the core of its edges over others lies in the services, facilities and experience it offers to passengers. With this in mind, HKIA's two passenger terminals - Terminal 1 (T1) and Terminal 2 (T2) - are equipped with a wide range of shopping, dining, entertainment and telecommunication facilities to provide passengers, airport visitors with a pleasant and unique airport experience. In particular, the retail, catering and entertainment parts of the two terminals, known as SkyMart in T1 and SkyPlaza in T2, give shoppers and diners a relaxing and exciting touch of the airport experience.
To capture the enormous growth opportunities ahead, $4.5 billion has been earmarked for a series of enhancement works at HKIA which included expansion works at the arrival central concourse at the T1 and a series of passenger capacity enhancement works, and airfield improvement works. To be implemented in phases, all the projects are expected to be completed by 2010. The airport terminal is also ready to accommodate the Airbus 380, the world's largest commercial plane, expected to begin commercial flying trial in 2007.
To maintain HKIA as the airport of choice for international and mainland passengers, the airport strives to maintain some of the world's highest standards in efficiency, security and safety, which is quintessential to provide a peace of mind for passengers passing through the airport. Performance pledges, for example, are set to ensure that efficiency is maintained at a high standard.
The success in keeping the flow fluent and reliable and in providing high-quality services to airport customers is the result of the concerted efforts of the 60,000-strong airport community and has won the airport many prestigious acclaims. HKIA was named 'Best Airport Worldwide', 'Best Airport', 'Best Airport in China' and having 'Best Airport Facilities', by SmartTravelAsia.com, TTG, Business Traveller China and TravelWeeklyChina. The results not only reflect recognition of our service enhancements by international passengers but also enable HKIA to remain one of the world's best airports.
HKIA also saw remarkable cargo growth in the previous few years. Cargo throughput for 2006 topped 3.6 million tonnes, a 5.2 per cent increase as compared to 2005. To cope with the mounting demand for more cargo facilities, 10 additional cargo stands and related taxiways are being constructed to enhance operational efficiency and facilitate the air freighter movement, increasing the total number of cargo stands to 34 by the scheduled completion in 2007. AA's investment aside, other cargo operators are also investing at HKIA to meet the rising demand for cargo handling.
Looking to the future development of the airport, the SkyCity development is transforming HKIA from a city's airport into an airport city. In addition to T2, other projects under the SkyCity development include SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course; a second airport hotel, Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and SkyPier, a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal. The golf course is scheduled to open in the first half of 2007 whereas the other two projects are slated to open in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
* A brief history of Kai Tak Airport can be found in the Civil Aviation Department's website: .