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Hong Kong International Airport Master Planning


Worldwide air travel has been growing at around 5 percent each year for the last 30 years (Hogan et al., 2012. p.1). Due to technological advancements, airports can now handle more passenger traffic with the same facilities and personnel. The number of flights using Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has increased steadily over the last several years, and the airport is now very close to reaching capacity. Starting in 2013, HKIA’s anticipated demand is predicted to exceed the airport’s maximum capacity. This has led to two proposals for capacity increases from the Airport Authority of Hong Kong (AAHK). One proposal enhances the current layout of the airport by rearranging the takeoff and landing zones and enlarging the terminals to handle more people, more flights, and more cargo. HKIA has also suggested a proposal to build a third runway to accommodate its anticipated future demand. As part of evaluating the two growth strategies, the Airport Authority of Hong Kong prepared the Master Plan 2030. This analysis assesses HKIA’s challenges and achievements in developing traffic forecasting, environmental considerations, and surface access development through its key Master Plan 2030.

Part 1

Traffic Forecasting Challenges

The Chinese University of Hong Kong published research that found air travel in Asia was expanding considerably quicker than in other markets. The forecasted demand for HKIA passenger traffic was anticipated to exceed 90 million passenger journeys annually by 2030. Its cargo flights were anticipated to surpass 8 million tons by 2030, and by 2013, the airport was expected to be at full capacity (Hogan et al., 2012. p.4). However, according to a recent Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) report, HKIA is experiencing the effects of the pandemic months after it was declared over. Contrary to the forecasted traffic numbers, passenger volume and flight activity fell by 98% and 66%, respectively (Asian Aviation Staff, 2021). This indicates that HKIA is experiencing challenges in traffic forecasting regarding the unpredictability of predicted data.

Airport Environmental Considerations Challenges

A green organization criticized HKIA after publishing the findings of a study on the environmental effects of the airport’s third runway construction. According to a survey conducted by HKIA authorities, in 2020, there were only 40 Chinese white dolphins in the seas around Lantau Island, where the airport is located, down from 77 in 2018 (Tsu-Kai, 2020). HKIA’s environment chairman posited that it was unclear whether the current efforts to protect the dolphins’ habitat would be successful (Tsu-Kai, 2020). Furthermore, green organizations criticize HKIA for releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases. When greenhouse gases are released at high altitudes, they significantly impact and accelerate global warming. Ground formation, filling, material handling and trucking, construction activity across reclaimed land, and wind erosion following reclamation may cause construction dust (Airport Authority Hong Kong, 2012.p.12).

Surface Access Considerations

HKIA faces challenges in this area due to a need for sufficient stakeholder engagement. For instance, recent research found that several Tung Chung area respondents needed to be aware of the airport’s anticipated growth. The vast majority had not participated in any of the authority’s public consultation activities (Hogan et al., 2012. p.24). Additionally, the government’s apathetic evaluation of the proposed third runway extension may be attributable to the public’s lack of participation in Master Plan 2030 initiatives. This suggests that HKIA needs to be more adequately informing and educating local citizens about the effects of the service access considerations. The company should conduct more investigation into locals’ perspectives to shed light on why the public is not more informed and enable the business to tailor its future initiatives better to address customers’ needs.

Part 2

Traffic Growth Ambitions

Traffic Measurement Earlier predictions for 2020 Master Plan 2030 predictions Variation Reasons
Passenger Numbers 50 million passengers 90 million passengers 40 million Increased flight transport use.
Freight tons 5 million tons 8 million tons 3 million tons Development of better-built planes.
AT movements 150,000

Data Derived from (Hogan et al., 2012. p.4)


(Data derived from (Hong Kong International Airport (n.d.p.20 )

550,000 A combination of increased passengers and airlines within HKIA.

HKIA’S New Airport Master Plan (NAMP) of 1992 predicted that the company would accommodate 87 million people, 8.9 million tons of cargo, and 376,000 flight movements annually in 2040 (Hong Kong International Airport (n.d.p.22). However, new estimates from consulting agencies show that by 2030, annual demand will be 97 million travellers, 8.9 million tons of cargo, and 602,000 aircraft takeoffs and landings (Hong Kong International Airport (n.d.p.22). During the fiscal year that concluded on 31st March 2018, HKIA had a very successful year, establishing new yearly records in all three categories of flight traffic. Annually, the company saw growth of 4.5% in passenger traffic and 3.2% in flight activity totaling 73 million passengers and 423,390 aircraft movements (Asia-Pacific Airports, 2018). It is the first airport to handle cargo of more than 5 million tons, thanks to a 7.6% increase in cargo volumes in 2017. In 2018, HKIA commemorated 20 years in business, reflecting rapid growth and expansion since its move from Kai Tak. While the number of airlines based at HKIA climbed from 60 to over 120, in the same period, the airport’s destinations grew from 120 to over 220 (Asia-Pacific Airports, 2018). It is now one of the world’s busiest airports, with passenger and cargo volumes more than quadrupled in the last decade alone. HKIA has received several accolades for the quality of its services and products. It was awarded Airport of the Year in 2018 for its outstanding performance in efficiency, customer service, and technical innovation categories. This gave it a further competitive advantage over its business rivals in the sector.

Environmental Goals

HKIA’s initial New Airport Master Plan (NAMP) did not encompass a sustainability clause as the subject was still under scientific scrutiny. However, it emphasized the need to sustainably maneuver ground access transport means and air transport (Airport Authority Hong Kong 2001.p.5.). The company also advocated for appropriate land use in its NAMP, which was commendable for a business at that time. The HKIA’s Environmental fund was established in 2011 by the Airport Authority to provide funding for programs and initiatives that promote environmental stewardship, eco-friendliness, and a more sustainable lifestyle among Hong Kong residents. AA pledged to make HKIA a more sustainable airport through green initiatives by 2012 (Hong Kong, n.d.). The company has been using this as a benchmark and a motivator in its pursuit of environmental leadership. The AA has implemented company-wide policies supported by HKIA’s CEO to reinforce the organization’s commitment to environmental excellence. To accelerate HKIA’s efforts to reduce adverse environmental impact, the AA actively investigates, creates, and implements strategic and creative techniques in environmental management. The company uses an independent monitoring program to get corporate partners involved in environmental concerns. Between 2019 and 2020, it established a program that focused on a scientific study to develop a method for producing chemicals from starch-based food waste and waste generated from paper towels used within the airport.

Surface Access Developments

Surface Access Measurement 1999 Data 2022 Data Variation Reasons
Car journeys 5% 40% 35% Personal vehicles are more prominent today.
Train journeys 8% 7.05% 0.5% Trains were practical then and affordable now.
Bus journeys 14% 2.59% 11.41% Few people are using buses and prefer metros.
Metro 16.96% 16.96% They are a new mode of transport.

In the 1990s, the railway system in Hong Kong was developed as part of the Hong Kong Port and Airport Development Strategy published in 1991. Thus, by 1999, individuals travelling by air through HKIA often used the train to connect to their flights (Wong, 2014). Initially, connecting trains to airports boosted businesses such as HKIA by helping them establish a new economic zone in the then-West and underutilized region (Tiry, 2003.p.19). Data collected by the Transport Department of Hong Kong in 2004 indicated that just above five percent of residents owned vehicles. As a result, private vehicles were not widely used as a means of transportation to HKIA (Wong, 2014). Nearly 47% of all buses were franchised, whereas AEL only operated 23%. The cheaper fare offered by the franchised buses was the key incentive for people to transition into flying using that mode of transport (Wong, 2014). Those employed AEL most often cited their justification as it required the least time. Currently, the ground transportation market at HKIA is dominated by cars, metro, and train transportation because of the convenience in access and affordability (Colovic et al., 2022.p.9). HKIA is constructing a reinforced vehicular bridge of 360 meters to connect its Intermodal Transfer Terminal (ITT) to the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities. The ITT and interconnected bridge, located next to the SkyPier, will make it unnecessary for air travellers coming or exiting through the HZMB to clear immigration in Hong Kong, which is convenient for most.


This report examines the progress and setbacks HKIA has seen in traffic predictions, environmental factors, and surface access considerations when developing the airport. HKIA proposed constructing a third runway to meet its projected future demand. AA established the Master Plan 2030 to assess expansion plans. This analysis finds that HKIA needs help with traffic forecasting since projected data is inherently unpredictable. Organizations concerned with environmental preservation have also criticized the company for its excessive greenhouse gas emissions. As a result of insufficient stakeholder involvement, the firm needs help in surface access considerations. However, through a thorough comprehension of the achievements the company has attained compared to its original master plan, NAMP, one realizes the significance of examining key master planning challenges.

Reference list

Airport Authority Hong Kong (2012). Expansion of Hong Kong International Airport into a Three-Runway System. [online] Available at:

Airport Authority Hong Kong (2001) Hong Kong International Airport Master Plan 2020. [Online] Available at:

Asia-Pacific Airports (2018). Hong Kong International Airport Achieves Record-setting 2017/18 | Airports Council International – ACI Asia-Pacific. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2022].

Asian Aviation Staff (2021). Hong Kong airport had a tough year. [online] Asian Aviation. Available at:

Colovic, A., Pilone, S.G., Kukić, K., Kalić, M., Dožić, S., Babić, D. and Ottomanelli, M., 2022. Airport Access Mode Choice: Analysis of Passengers’ Behavior in European Countries. Sustainability14(15), p.9267.

Hogan, G.J., Hines, J.C., Corpuz, L.S. and Paredes, M.I., 2012. Effects of Hong Kong International Airport: An Evaluation of the Perceived Impacts in Tung Chung.

Hong Kong Airport (n.d.). Environmental Fund, Environment. [online] Hong Kong International Airport. Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2022].

Hong Kong International Airport (n.d.) Our Airport Our Future. Available at:

Tsu-Kai, W. (2020). New airport runway will have a negative impact on Chinese white dolphins. [online] Young Post. Available at:

Wong, M. (2014). Transport market share to Hong Kong International Airport. [online] Checkerboard Hill. Available at: [Accessed 14 Dec. 2022].


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