September start likely for third runway.
Hong Kong’s government gave conditional approval on Tuesday to a third runway for the city’s airport.
Transport Secretary Eva Cheng said government policy advisers approved an expansion plan for Chek Lap Kok that involves reclaiming a massive 650 hectares (1,600 acres) of land from the sea, with the environmental assessment report to be ready by the end of this month, work on the third runway at the Hong Kong International Airport could begin by September.
The Airport Authority has said that the third runway is needed because by 2020 the two existing ones won’t be able to accommodate an increased number of flights. Annual passenger numbers are expected to nearly double to 97 million by 2030 from 53.9 million in 2011 while air cargo is expected to more than double to 8.9 million metric tons from 4 million metric tons in the same time frame.
Environmentalists worry about the project’s impact on air quality and on endangered Chinese white dolphins found in the waters surrounding the airport on Lantau Island.
The project is expected to cost $11 billion, including $5 billion for the land reclamation, however according to Airport Authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon, construction costs, have increased sharply since 2010 and could increase further if there are more delays.