Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), the main airport in Hong Kong, has been experiencing significant growth rates in passenger and cargo traffic and aircraft movements over the past decade. According to IATA’s estimates, the airport will handle 102 million passengers, 8.9mt of cargo and 607,000 aircraft movements annually by 2030.

To meet the growing demand, HKIA operator Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has come up with the Master Plan 2030, which outlined the future development plans of the airport.

Of the two options proposed in the plan, Option-2 was finalised through a public consultation. It envisages the airport’s expansion into a three-runway system (3RS) from the existing two-runway system (2RS), receiving government approval in March 2015.

The expansion will allow the airport to handle an additional 30 million passengers a year. It is considered crucial for establishing the airport as an international and regional aviation hub and will encourage economic growth in the region by creating employment opportunities.

“The construction work on the 3RS project began in August 2016.”

3RS project details

The project is being executed in three phases. Phase 1 took two years, including environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies, associated design details and funding options.

Phase 2 will take one year and include environmental permit, financial arrangement and other statutory process requirements.

Phase 3 is the actual implementation period, which will oversee detailed design of the project, land reclamation and construction of related facilities.

The construction work on the 3RS project began in August 2016. The new runway is expected to be operational in 2022, while the 3RS project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

Infrastructure developments under the 3RS project

The expansion at the HKIA begins with the reclamation of approximately 650ha of land towards the north of the airport. Various techniques will be used for the reclamation, including non-dredge methods such as deep cement mixing.

A new 3,800m-long runway will be constructed along with supporting taxiway systems in order to expand the airport into a three-runway system. The existing north runway will also be reconstructed.

A new passenger concourse will be built, covering approximately 283,000m² to offer high-tech facilities, environment-friendly features and a range of shopping and dining options for passengers. To be named as the third runway concourse (TRC), it will feature an apron and 57 new parking positions, of which 34 are frontal and 23 are remote.

A new 2,600m-long automated people mover (APM) system will also be constructed. Capable of transporting roughly 10,800 passengers an hour at 80km/h, the new passenger concourse will transfer passengers from Terminal 2 to the new concourse in 2.5 minutes.

Similar to APM, a new baggage handling system (BHS) will be constructed between Terminal 2 and the new concourse. It will transport luggage at a speed between 25km/h to 36km/h. The first baggage will be transported to the luggage belt upon 20 minutes of passenger arrival and the last baggage within 40 minutes.

Other developments include expansion of the existing Terminal 2 into a full-service processing terminal, and construction of an associated road network, airport support infrastructure, facilities, and utilities for 3RS operation.

The existing Terminal 1 is also being expanded with a seven-storey reinforced concrete structure with new check-in counters, baggage reclaim carousels, departure security screening channels, and departure immigration counters.

The expansion of Carpark 4 involves the construction of an 11-storey reinforced concrete structure linking the existing Carpark 4 and T1 arrivals ramp.

Contractors involved with the Hong Kong international airport expansion

The consultancy service contract for the reclamation project was awarded to UK-based Atkins in June 2015. The contractual scope includes detailed design of 650ha of reclaimed land, ground improvement works, seawalls, re-provisioning works, and extension and modification of existing large box culver in preparation for the construction of the 3RS system.

The contractor will continue the services into the construction phase of the project, with provision for design support services.

Hong-Kong-based consulting group ERM was selected to provide environmental permit consultancy services for the project. The contract included the supply of professional and specialist services on environmental protection issues.

Leighton Asia was awarded a $211m contract by Airport Authority Hong Kong for the Terminal 1 and Carpark 4 expansion project at the airport in April 2017.

Thales secured two contracts in April 2018 to provide signalling systems for the existing APM lines and to equip new APM trains with SelTrac communications-based train control (CBTC) solution.

Investment and financing

The total estimated construction cost of the 3RS project is HK$141.5bn ($18.26bn), according to 2015 prices (HK$484.5bn in 2010).

Funding for the project will be based on the ‘joint contribution and user-pay’ principle, in which funds from multiple channels will be utilised.

The funding sources include bank loans and bonds issues, HKIA’s operational surplus, and construction fees collected from the departing passengers.

Sustainability

HKIA aims to become one of the world’s greenest airports with its environmental plan containing more than 120 green initiatives. The plan is expected to enable the airport to develop a robust culture of sustainability throughout the airport.

Some of the green initiatives planned include carbon and energy reduction, air quality monitoring, green building design and water conservation, as well as waste management with a pledge to recycle 50% of all waste by 2021.