Paul Lewis/SINGAPORE Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

CHINA AND THE UK have agreed to build a second runway for Hong Kong's new airport at Chek Lap Kok (CLK), to cater for faster-than-expected traffic growth.

The agreement, signed by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, clears the way for a northern runway to be added by October 1998, six months after the new airport is due to open. CLK replaces Hong Kong's over-congested Kai Tak Airport.

Construction of more apron parking to serve the new runway, and a planned second terminal arm, providing ten more air bridges, will also be brought forward to 1998. The new work will add a further HK$4.3 billion ($556 million) to the airport's HK$70.7 billion construction cost.

Wong Po-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong airport authority, says that the building of the new runway will have no impact on the completion of the first phase of the airport, which is due in April 1998. He adds that no additional Government equity will be required for the extension, as work will be financed through private borrowing.

The plan follows a revised traffic forecast, which indicated that the originally approved single-runway configuration would be at maximum capacity soon after opening. The Hong Kong Airport Authority says that the southern runway would be able to handle 37-38 aircraft movements an hour. Kai Tak's single-runway capacity is expected to rise to a final movement ceiling of 31 an hour by late 1997. CLK, with two runways, will be able to handle 56 segregated aircraft movements an hour, later increasing to 63 in an independent mode. Meanwhile, a recent agreement between the UK and China on the granting of aircraft-maintenance and ramp-handling licences at CLK, has cleared the final obstacle to the beginning of operations at the new airport.

A 20-year licence has been awarded to Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering, a sister company of Cathay Pacific within the Swire group. It ensures that the group will have a continued base and line-maintenance role after the closure of Kai Tak.

Two ten-year line-maintenance franchises have been granted. One goes to China Aircraft Services - a venture led by China National Aviation, teamed with British Airways, Hutchison and United Airlines. The second has been given to the Pan Asia Pacific Aviation Services consortium, made up of Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Garuda and Royal Brunei Airlines.

Three ten-year licences for ramp handling have gone to Cathay Hong Kong Airport Services, a Pacific/Dragonair partnership; Jardine's wholly owned Chek Lap Kok Ground Handling; and Ogden Aviation (Hong Kong).

Source: Flight International