Cathay Pacific’s Chief Executive, John Slosar has told an Australian audience that a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) would be necessary for the long-term sustainability of the economy of Hong Kong.
Giving the keynote speech yesterday at a luncheon organised by the National Aviation Press Club in Sydney, Slosar said that HKIA will be saturated within the next seven to nine years – 15-20 years ahead of the original blueprint forecast for 2040.
“This is a good news story – the growth in flights to and from Hong Kong has way exceeded expectations. And Hong Kong as a destination, and as an economy, has certainly benefited from that,” Slosar explained.
“In order to maintain the competitive edge required to sustain Hong Kong’s long-term future as an international centre for transport, trade, finance, and logistics, a third runway at HKIA is going to be needed.”
Slosar said the Hong Kong community would need to debate the issue of the third runway and he was pleased to note that the consultation process for the HKIA Master Plan 2030 would begin this week.
“As Hong Kong’s home carrier, we will certainly play our part in the debate,” Slosar said. “We will be vocal in putting forth our views and I guess you would expect nothing less from us. Connectivity with the rest of the world has made Hong Kong what it is today so we must be clear on how we can maintain and grow these linkages for tomorrow.”
Slosar highlighted the fact that since Hong Kong opened the current airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998, Cathay Pacific has spent a “huge amount of time, effort and treasure in growing it to be the region’s premier aviation hub”.
“We are true believers in Hong Kong and unabashed bulls on the future of China. And we continue to put our money where our mouth is,” he said, pointing to the investments Cathay Pacific is making to boost Hong Kong’s hub role. These include a new HK$5.5 billion (US$707 million) cargo terminal, due to open in early 2013, and 87 new aircraft for delivery up to the end of the decade with a list price in the region of HK$180 billion.
“That’s quite an order book – and it may not be finished yet. Watch this space!” he added.