Hong Kong moving ahead with ‘Airport City’

Construction at Hong Kong International Airport. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Use thisA series of projects at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) are being implemented progressively as part of the “Airport City” development, a blueprint that entails an investment of over HK$40 billion in the 10 years to 2030 by Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) in enhancing the airport’s capacity and functionality, while transforming it into a new landmark and propelling the economic development of Hong Kong and the region

Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has, like airlines around the world, been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Fred Lam, chief executive officer of the authority, said the group “first put forward the Airport City vision and  blueprint in May last year. We are very glad that the HKSAR government supports the development of Airport City, which aims to fully capitalise on the unique geographical advantage of HKIA and capture opportunities arising from new infrastructures. The core functions of the airport and related industries are organically and seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the Airport City, unleashing a strong synergy. The various mid- and long-term developments in our blueprint will strengthen HKIA as an international aviation hub and create a new landmark for Hong Kong.”

Airlines like Cathay Pacific have had to ground hundreds of planes and slash capacity as international travel has ground to a virtual halt. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Airport Facilities Enhancement
The AA has been continuously enhancing airport facilities. Ongoing works include the refurbishment of boarding gates and other facilities in the terminal; construction of the “Sky Bridge” to connect Terminal 1 and North Satellite Concourse; and leveraging technology to enhance passenger services. Smart airport initiatives such as e-Security Gates and e-Boarding Gates, “HKG My Flight” mobile application, and deploying robots in the terminal enrich passenger experience. Meanwhile, the 5G infrastructure and digital apron management system will further improve operational efficiency.

HKBCF Island Development
The AA’s proposals for the development of the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) Island of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) focus on enhancing HKIA’s services and development as part of the Airport City strategy.

Hong Kong International Airport. (PHOTO: HKIA)

The government has accepted the AA’s plan to develop automated car parks on the HKBCF Island that will provide around 6,000 parking spaces in phases. The “Park and Fly” and “Park and Visit” carparks will cater to air transfer passengers and visitors respectively. “Park and Fly” passengers will transfer to HKIA boarding gates directly from the HKBCF restricted area, facilitated by a bonded vehicular bridge connected to the airport’s Intermodal Transfer Terminal, without having to go through immigration procedures in Hong Kong; while “Park and Visit” visitors may go from HKBCF to SKYCITY or to other parts of Hong Kong on “Airport City Link”, a vehicular and pedestrian bridge. The AA plans to introduce an autonomous transportation system on the Airport City Link to connect HKBCF Island and SKYCITY, and extend the system to Tung Chung town centre.

The AA also plans to develop a new campus and dormitory of the Hong Kong International Aviation Academy on the HKBCF Island, while land parcels have been reserved for future air cargo developments.

SKYCITY and AWE Phase II Development
SKYCITY is an integral part of the Airport City development, of which, “11 SKIES” developed by New World Development, will be Hong Kong’s largest integrated complex for retail, dining and entertainment facilities. 11 SKIES will be completed in phases from 2022 to 2025, introducing over 800 shops with more than 120 dining concepts and Hong Kong’s largest indoor entertainment area. There will also be three Grade A office buildings. Regal Hotels International’s Regala Skycity Hotel will be completed next year, providing around 1,200 rooms.

Phase II development of AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) will house the largest indoor performance venue in Hong Kong which accommodates 20,000 people. Upon completion the total gross floor area of AWE’s exhibition facilities will increase to 100,000 square metres. The synergy between AWE and SKYCITY is expected to transform the airport into a new landmark for both visitors and local residents. In addition, more hotels and office buildings are planned to be developed in SKYCITY in the future.

Air Cargo Development
HKIA has been ranked the world’s busiest international cargo airport for 10 consecutive years since 2010 and the AA is taking forward intermodal cargo initiatives to consolidate its leadership position. The AA is planning to set up a HKIA Logistics Park in Dongguan and an airside intermodal cargo handling facility at HKIA, with a view to creating a brand new mode of cargo business, increasing cargo handling volume at HKIA, and serving as a growth engine for the industry.

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

With the new facilities in operation, customs clearance, security screening, palletisation, cargo acceptance and other services for Mainland exports could be completed in Dongguan before shipping the goods to the cargo handling facility in the restricted area of HKIA by sea, for air transshipment to worldwide destinations. For imports to the Mainland, the goods could be directly shipped from the HKIA restricted area to Dongguan. The procedures will comply with Hong Kong’s air cargo security regulations. Next year a pilot scheme will trial the operations between Hong Kong and Dongguan.

Meanwhile, the strategy to develop the high-value, high-growth logistics segments continues, covering temperature-controlled cargo such as medicine and vaccines, and e-commerce. A premium logistics centre at the airport is being developed by a joint venture led by Cainiao Network, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, which is expected to add 1.7 million tonnes of cargo volume to HKIA each year. Meanwhile, the expansion of DHL’s Central Asia Hub is expected to increase its capacity by 50% to 1.06 million tonnes.

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Strengthen Collaboration with Zhuhai Airport
The commissioning of the HZMB has significantly shortened the distance between HKIA and Zhuhai Airport. The two airports have agreed to explore deeper collaboration and formulate long-term development plans to complement each other’s strengths. The AA’s proposed injection of equity into Zhuhai Airport is expected to pave the way for long-term and extensive collaboration between the two airports. Details of future collaboration will be discussed between the two sides.

Authority prices debut US$1.5 billion perpetual capital securities
The authority also announced it has successfully priced a dual-tranche debt securities offering consisting of US$750 million non-call 5.5-year and US$750 million non-call 7.5-year perpetual capital securities. The transaction marks the authority’s debut foray into the perpetual bond market, which is also the first US dollar senior perpetual offering in the public bond market from an airport globally. The proceeds from the securities will be used to fund capital expenditure of the AA including the Three-runway System Project (3RS) and for general corporate purposes. The construction of the 3RS commenced in August 2016. The 650-hectare reclamation is practically complete. The entire project targets completion in 2024 at a construction cost of HK$141.5 billion in money-of-the-day terms. The securities are rated “AA” by Standard & Poor’s, one notch lower than the current credit rating of the authority to account for its optional coupon deferral feature.

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