HK, bay area transport hub

July 6, 2018

Chief Executive Carrie Lam

It was 20 years ago this very day that Cathay Pacific flight CX889, from New York, became the first commercial service to touch down at our brand-new airport. That was the beginning of our steep climb, our rise and shine as one of the world's major aviation hubs.


The numbers certainly bear that out. In 1997, its last full year of service, Kai Tak Airport handled 10.2 million passengers. Last year, Hong Kong International Airport, or Chek Lap Kok, welcomed 73 million passengers and more than five million tonnes of air cargo. That makes us the world's third-busiest international passenger airport. It also makes us the world's busiest cargo airport – and that for the past eight years in a row.


We've become just as popular with the world's airlines. The number of airlines with operations here has grown from 60 to more than 100, providing over 1,100 flights a day to more than 220 destinations around the world.


Such results have not gone unnoticed. Over the past two decades, the airport has been honoured with more than 70 "best airport" awards.


And the best is yet to come. Construction of the airport's three-runway system has been in place for nearly two years now, with completion scheduled for 2024. At that point, the airport will be able to welcome about 100 million passengers a year while handling nine million tonnes of cargo annually.


This timing should be fortuitous, given the vast promise of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, with its collective population of over 69 million busy, prosperous people. The imminent completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will slash travelling time between Hong Kong and Guangdong as well as Macau, making our airport even more accessible.


The major Pearl River Delta airports are also expanding to cater to the expected soaring of demand, but I am confident our integrated multi-modal infrastructure – embracing air, sea and land – will ensure Hong Kong remains the bay area's international transport hub.


More than moving people and cargo around the region and the world, our airport will fly on sustainable talent. In that regard, I'm pleased to note that the Airport Authority and France's Groupe ADP last month signed two MOUs. These will boost co-operation between Hong Kong International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, one of the world's busiest airports. These agreements cover a variety of areas, ranging from airport management to talent development, including a staff exchange programme.


I'm pleased as well that our International Aviation Academy and the Vocational Training Council also signed an agreement last month. Together, they will work to expand our local talent base, training tomorrow's professionals to support the airport's long-term development. Going further, the academy will also offer training and exchange opportunities to our friends along the Belt & Road, sharing Hong Kong's rich experience in aviation and strengthening people to people bonds.


Hong Kong International Airport is among our most important infrastructure. My heartfelt congratulations to Hong Kong International Airport on its 20th anniversary, and I wish it all the best in the next 20 years.


Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave this speech at the cocktail reception in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong International Airport on July 6.

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