Paul Lewis/HONG KONG

HONG KONGS' NEW Airport Authority (AA) is pressing the Government to begin construction of a second parallel runway at Chek Lap Kok, before the airport opens in April 1998.

The second runway could be completed as early as the end of 1998, if the project is given the go-ahead this year, says the AA. The northern runway, however, falls outside the phase-one building plan, and Hong Kong would require China's approval for the extra funding.

AA estimates put the cost of constructing the runway at HK$4-5 billion ($510-650 million). Associated work would include building a second terminal arm and aircraft apron parking, to handle additional northern runway traffic.

The HK$49.8 billion financing package agreed with China in 1995, covering phase one, includes a $3.4 billion contingency fund, part of which could be used to finance building the second runway.

"There are various ways in which it could financed, but, until we get a little further in discussions with the governments involved, we've not selected anyone," says AA chief executive Dr Henry Townsend.

The second runway is needed to cope with faster-than-anticipated growth. Without it, within a year of the airport's opening, peak-time traffic will exceed the 37-38 movements-per-hour capacity of the single southern runway.

Hong Kong's existing Kai Tak Airport is already operating in excess of its design capacity, having handled 27.4 million passengers in 1995, a figure which is set to rise to over 30 million by April 1998, when the airport is due to close.

"We're turning away 200 applications a week for scheduled flights," says Hong Kong civil-aviation director Richard Siegel. It is planned to increase runway capacity from 29 to 30 aircraft an hour after May, with upgraded radar data processing software, and up to 31 by 1998.

Source: Flight International