The airport opened for commercial operations in 1998, replacing Kai Tak Airport, and is an important regional trans-shipment centre, passenger hub and gateway for destinations in China, East Asia and Southeast Asia. Despite a relatively short history, Hong Kong International Airport has won several notable international "Best Airport" awards. In 2001-2005 and 2007 - 2008, it came first in Skytrax's World Airport Awards, and second in 2006.
HKIA operates twenty-four hours a day, and is one of the in terms of international passenger and cargo movement. In 2007, HKIA handled 47.8 million passengers and 3.74 million tonnes of cargo. It is the primary hub for Cathay Pacific, , Hong Kong Express Airways, Hong Kong Airlines and Air Hong Kong.
The airport was built on a largely artificial island from Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau. The two former islands that were levelled comprise about 25% of the surface area of the airport's 12.55 km? platform. It is connected to the northern side of Lantau Island near the historic village of Tung Chung, now expanded into a new town. Land reclamation for the airport added nearly 1% to the entirety of Hong Kong's surface area. It replaced the , which was located in the Kowloon City area with a single runway extending into Kowloon Bay close to the urban built-up areas.
Construction of the new airport was only part of the Airport Core Programme, which also involved construction of new road and rail links to the airport, with associated bridges and tunnels, and major land reclamation projects on both Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. The project is the most expensive airport project ever, according to . Construction of the new airport was voted as one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century at the ConExpo conference in 1999.
Opened on 6 July 1998, a week later than Kuala Lumpur International Airport, it took six years and US $20 billion to build. On that day at 6:25 a.m., Cathay Pacific's CX889 was the first flight to land at the airport, pipping the original CX292 from Rome which was the scheduled first arrival. The architects were Foster and Partners. For three to five months after its opening, it suffered various severe organisational, mechanical, and technical problems that almost crippled the airport. At one time, the government reopened the cargo terminal at Kai Tak Airport to handle freight traffic due to a breakdown at the new cargo terminal, named Super Terminal One , however after six months the airport started to operate normally.
Officially opened in June 2007, the second airport terminal, called T2, is linked with the Airport Express Line with a new platform. The terminal also features a new shopping mall , providing a large variety of shops and restaurants, together with a few entertainment facilities. T2 also houses a 36-bay coach station and 56 airline check-in counters, as well as customs and immigration facilities.
Besides T2, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course has been opened in 2007 whereas the second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal, the SkyPier, are slated to begin operation in 2008 and 2009 repectively. Development around T2 also includes the AsiaWorld-Expo which has started operation in late 2005.
A study for the ''HKIA Master Plan 2030'' is underway to examine whether and how infrastructures at HKIA - including airport access, terminal and apron facilities and a new runway - should be developed to support the economic growth of Hong Kong and the region.
The airport is operated by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, a statutory body wholly owned by the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The is responsible for the provision of air traffic control services, certification of Hong Kong registered aircraft, monitoring of airlines on their compliance with bilateral Air Services Agreements, and the regulation of general civil aviation activities.
The airport has two parallel runways, both of which are 3800 metres in length and 60 metres wide, enabling them to cater to the next generation of aircraft. The south runway has been given a , while the north runway has the higher Category IIIA rating, which allows pilots to land in only 200 metre visibility. The two runways have an ultimate capacity of over 60 aircraft movements an hour. At present there are 49 frontal stands, 28 remote stands and 25 cargo stands. Five parking bays at the Northwest Concourse are already capable of accommodating the arrivals of the next generation of aircraft. A satellite concourse with 10 frontal stands for narrow body aircraft is under construction to the north of the main concourse for commissioning by the end of 2009. It'll bring the total no of frontal stands at the airport to 59.
The airport was the third in Asia in 2005, and the world's second busiest airport for cargo traffic in 2005. In terms of international traffic, the airport is the third busiest for passenger traffic and the busiest for cargo since its operation in 1998. There are 87 international airlines providing about 760 scheduled passenger and all-cargo flights each day between Hong Kong and some 154 destinations worldwide. About 76 percent of these flights are operated with wide-bodied jets. There are also an average of approximately 31 non-scheduled passenger and cargo flights each week.
The operation of scheduled air services to and from Hong Kong is facilitated by air services agreements between Hong Kong and other countries. Since the opening of HKIA, the has implemented a policy of progressive liberalisation of air services with the intention of promoting consumer choice and competition.
The airport's long term expansion opportunities are subject to variables. A proposal to build a third runway has been under feasibility study and consultation but would be very expensive as it would involve additional reclamation from deep waters, and the building cost of the third runway may be as high as the building cost of the entire airport. On the other hand, there exists only one airway between Hong Kong and China , and this single route is often and easily backed up causing delays in both Hong Kong and China. Finally, China requires that aircraft flying the single air route between Hong Kong and China be at an altitude of least 15,000 feet. Talks are underway to persuade the Chinese military to relax its airspace restriction in view of worsening air traffic congestion at the airport.
Main airlines based at HKIA
Several airlines are based at Hong Kong International Airport:
* Cathay Pacific, is the flag carrier of Hong Kong. Cathay operates a mixed all-widebody fleet of one hundred and fifteen Airbuses and Boeings, providing scheduled services to the rest of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Europe, South Africa and North America.
** Dragonair operates 39 aircraft, providing scheduled passenger services to and from Mainland China and Japan, it also operates cargo services to much of the world.
* Hong Kong Express operates smaller aircraft on scheduled services mainly to Mainland China on routes shared with Cathay and Dragonair. Hong Kong Express also operates a helicopter service to areas close by
* operates scheduled all-cargo services between Hong Kong and Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.
* Hong Kong Airlines, operates scheduled passenger services to Korea, Thailand, and China.
Recreational flying in Hong Kong is catered for by the Hong Kong Aviation Club, which undertakes flying training for private pilots and provides facilities for private owners.
The provides short and long range search and rescue services, police support, medical evacuation and general purpose flights for the Government.
The airport is one of the most accessible in operation today. Despite its size, the passenger terminal is designed for maximum convenience. A simple layout and effective signage, moving walkways and the automated people mover allow quick and easy movement throughout the building. The airport also features a driverless people mover system consisting of 3 stations to provide fast transportation from check-in area to gates . These trains travel at 62km/h and the service is provided for free to all passengers and crew.
Terminal 1 of the HKIA is currently the second largest airport passenger terminal building of the world . At its opening, Terminal 1 was the largest airport passenger terminal building, with a total gross floor area of 550,000 m?. It briefly conceded the status to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport when the latter opened on 15 September 2006, but reclaimed the title when the East Hall was expanded, bring its total area to the current 570,000 m?. Terminal 1's title as the world's largest was surrendered to Beijing Capital International Airport's Terminal 3 on 2008.
Terminal 2 of the Hong Kong International Airport, together with the Skyplaza, opened on February 28, 2007 along with the opening of the Platform 3. It is only a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers with no gates or arrival facilities. So far Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, East Star Airlines, Emirates Airline, Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airlines, Jetstar Asia Airways, Jet Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Siem Reap Airways, South African Airways, Thai Airways International and Uni Air have relocated their check-in operations to T2. The is situated within Terminal 2.
The Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre is located within the confines of the airport and has its own terminal and facilities separate from the public terminal. It provides a full range of services for executive aircraft and passengers, including passenger lounge, private rooms and showers, business centre facilities, ground handling, baggage handling, fuelling, security, customs and flight planning. Designated spaces and hangarage are also provided at the BAC for private aircraft.
Intermodal transportation hub
In order to sustain the growth of passengers, the Airport Authority formulated a “push and pull through” strategy to expand its connections to new sources of passengers and cargo. This means adapting the network to the rapidly-growing markets in China and in particular to the Pearl River Delta region . In 2003, two major events improved connections to the PRD. One was the opening of a new Airport-Mainland Coach Station. The coach station features a 230 m? waiting lounge and sheltered bays for ten coaches. The dedicated coach terminal provides a comfortable environment for passengers travelling between HKIA and different cities in PRD. A huge number of buses are operating per day to transport passengers between HKIA and major cities in the Mainland.
The Coach Station was relocated to Terminal 2 in 2007. The 36 bays at the new Coach Station allow cross-border coaches to make 240 trips a day carrying passengers between the airport and 70 cities and towns in the PRD. Local tour and hotel coaches also operate from there.
HKIA’s network to China is also expanded by the opening of SkyPier in late September 2003, offering millions in the PRD direct access to the airport. Passengers coming to SkyPier by high-speed ferries can board buses for onward flights while arriving air passengers can board ferries at the pier for their journeys back to the PRD. Passengers travelling both directions can bypass custom and immigration formalities, which reduces transit time. Four ports – Shekou, Shenzhen, Macau and – were initially served. As of August 2007, SkyPier serves Shenzhen's Shekou and Fuyong, Dongguan's , Macau, Zhongshan and Zhuhai. Moreover, passengers travelling from Shekou and Macau piers can even complete airline check-in procedures with participating airlines before boarding the ferries and go straight to the boarding gate for the connecting flight at HKIA. The provision of cross boundary coach and ferry services has transformed HKIA into an inter-modal transportation hub combining air, sea and land transport.
Baggage and cargo facilities
Ramp handling services are provided by Hong Kong Airport Services Limited , Jardine Air Terminal Services Limited, and Menzies Aviation Group. Their services include the handling of mail and passenger baggage, transportation of cargo, aerobridge operations and the operation of passenger stairways. The airport has an advanced baggage handling system , the main section of which is located in the basement level of the passenger terminal, and a separate remote transfer facility at the western end of the main concourse for handling of tight connection transfer bags.
HKIA currently handles well over three million tonnes of cargo annually. Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited operates one of the two air cargo terminals at the airport. Its headquarters, the 328,000 m? SuperTerminal 1, is the world’s second largest stand-alone air cargo handling facility, after the opening of the West Cargo Handling Area of the Shanghai Pudong International Airport in 26 Mar 2008. The designed capacity is 2.6 million tonnes of freight a year. The second air cargo terminal is operated by Asia Airfreight Terminal Company Limited, and currently has a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a year. It is envisaged that HKIA’s total air cargo capacity per annum will reach nine million tonnes ultimately.
Aircraft maintenance services
Both line and base maintenance services are undertaken by , while China Aircraft Services Limited and Pan Asia Pacific Aviation Services Limited carry out line maintenance. Line maintenance services include routine servicing of aircraft performed during normal turnaround periods and regularly scheduled layover periods. Base maintenance covers all airframe maintenance services and, for this, HAECO has a three-bay hangar, which can accommodate up to three Boeing B747-400 aircraft and two Airbus A320 aircraft, and an adjoining support workshop. HAECO also has the world's largest mobile hangar, weighing over 400 tons. It can be used to enclose half of a wide-body airplane, so that the whole facility can fully enclose four 747s when the mobile hangar is used. A new two-bay hangar that locates next to the current one will be in operation by the end of 2006.
Airport based ground services
The Air Traffic Control Complex , located at the centre of the airfield, is the nerve centre of the entire air traffic control system. Some 370 air traffic controllers and supporting staff work around the clock to provide air traffic control services for the safe and efficient flow of aircraft movements within the Hong Kong Flight Information Region . At the Air Traffic Control Tower, controllers provide 24-hour aerodrome control services to aircraft operating at the airport. A Backup Air Traffic Control Centre/Tower constructed to the north of the ATCX is available for operational use in the event normal services provided in the ATCX are disrupted by unforeseen circumstances. Apart from serving as an operational backup, the facilities are also used for air traffic control training.
The Airport Meteorological Office of the Hong Kong Observatory provides weather services for the aviation community The AMO makes routine and special weather observations and provides fixed-time aerodrome forecasts and landing forecasts for the HKIA. It issues aerodrome warnings on adverse weather for protection of aerodrome facilities and aircraft on the ground. It also issues significant weather information on thunderstorms, tropical cyclones, turbulence, icing, and other hazardous weather which may affect aviation safety in the area within which Hong Kong is responsible for the provision of air traffic services. To enhance the safety of aircraft landing and taking off from HKIA, the AMO issues alerts of low-level windshear and turbulence.
Rescue and fire fighting services within the airport are covered by the Airport Fire Contingent of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department. The contingent has a strength of 282 uniformed members, operating two fire stations and two rescue berths for 24-hour emergency calls. It is equipped with 14 fire appliances which can respond to incidents within two minutes in optimum conditions of visibility and surface conditions, satisfying the relevant recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Two high capacity rescue boats, supported by eight speed boats, form the core of sea rescue operations.
Airlines and destinations
*Air New Zealand
*All Nippon Airways
*Biman Bangladesh Airlines
*China Eastern Airlines
*China Southern Airlines
*Orient Thai Airlines
*Pakistan International Airlines
*Royal Brunei Airlines
*Saudi Arabian Airlines
*Swiss International Air Lines
*Virgin Atlantic Airways
Terminal 2 is a check-in only facility. All boarding gates, transfer and arrival facilities are in Terminal 1.
*East Star Air
*Hong Kong Airlines
*Hong Kong Express Airways
*Jetstar Asia Airways
*South African Airways
*Thai Airways International
*Air China Cargo
*Air France Cargo
*Air Hong Kong
*British Airways World Cargo
*Cathay Pacific Cargo
*Czech Airlines Cargo
*China Cargo Airlines
*China Airlines Cargo
*El Al Cargo
*EVA Air Cargo
*Evergreen International Airlines
*Gemini Air Cargo
*Jade Cargo International
*Jett8 Airlines Cargo
*Korean Air Cargo
*Nippon Cargo Airlines
*Orient Thai Cargo
*Philippine Airlines Cargo
*Polar Air Cargo
*Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo
*Shanghai Airlines Cargo
*Singapore Airlines Cargo
*TESIS Aviation Enterprise
*Thai Global Airline
*Transmile Air Services
*United Parcel Service
*Yangtze River Express
The airport can be reached by the , a dedicated rail link provided by the MTR. It takes 24 minutes to reach the airport from the central , via and stations. Airport Express passengers may check-in for their flights up to a day before their departure, depending on the airline they are travelling with. Check-in counters are available at both the Hong Kong and Kowloon stations on the Airport Express Line. Facing the front of the train, doors to both Terminals 1 and 2 open at the same time to the left and right respectively upon arrival at the Airport Station.
Passengers may also take the 1-minute journey to AsiaWorld-Expo, which is located also in Chek Lap Kok. This portion of the was opened from 20 December 2005.
In the latest policy address by Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the chief executive of the Special Administrative Region, the government will soon start the study of building a railway connecting between Hong Kong International Airport and Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport.
Numerous city bus services are provided between the airport and most of the city, both by , New Lantao Bus, Long Win Bus and Discovery Bay Bus from both the Airport Ground Transportation Centre and Cheong Tat Road.
In the various bus terminals in the City, bus routes that go to the Airport are marked with the letter "A", "E", "S" and "N" on the route number. No matter where you are located in Hong Kong, any bus that starts with an "A" or an "E" on Citybus' CityFlyers or Long Win Bus' Airbus means that it goes to the airport, except routes E21A, E21X and E31. Some of the buses are also marked with a special orange color. These buses are also specially designed to carry large amounts of luggage.
Coach service is available to major cities and towns in Guangdong, such as Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou.
Direct ferry services are available from the airport to various destinations throughout the Pearl River Delta. Passengers using these services are treated as transit passengers and are not considered to have entered Hong Kong for immigration purposes. For this reason, access to the ferry terminal is before immigration in the airport for arriving passengers. Check-in services are available at these piers. Four ports – Shekou, Shenzhen, Macau and – were initially served, extending to Guangzhou and Zhongshan at the end of 2003. The Zhuhai service began on 10 July 2007
At this time, these services are available to air passengers only.
The airport is served by all three different types of taxi, distinguished by their colour:
*Urban taxis connect the Airport with Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and parts of the new towns of Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin and Tseung Kwan O. .
*New Territories taxis connect the airport with the New Territories, except those parts of the Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin and Tseung Kwan O served by urban taxis.
*Lantau taxis connect the airport with the rest of Lantau Island.
Accidents and incidents
* On 22 August 1999, , which was landing in at Hong Kong International Airport en route from Bangkok International Airport to Hong Kong, rolled over and caught fire, coming to rest upside down beside the runway. Three people onboard were killed.
* On July 31 2000 a man, armed with a pistol, forced his way through a security checkpoint and held a woman hostage on a Cathay Pacific aircraft. The man surrendered after two and a half hours.
*On July 8, 2008, from bumped into an engineering vehicle after landing. There were no injuries; however, the wing of the aircraft was slightly damaged after the collision.
Air traffic control communication frequencies
* Tower North: 118.200
* Tower South: 118.400
* Tower: 118.700
* Ground North: 122.600
* Ground South: 121.550
* Departure: 123.800
* Departure: 124.05
* Approach: 119.100
* Approach: 119.350
* Approach: 133.700
* Precision: 133.700
* Zone Control: 120.600
* Clearance Delivery: 129.900
* Clearance Delivery: 124.650
* Departure ATIS: 127.050
* Arrival ATIS: 128.200
* Flight Service: 121.000
* Flight Service: 122.400
* Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation CAPA International Airport of the Year
* Skytrax World's Best Airport
* Conde Nast Traveler World's Best Airport
* Air Transport Research Society Asia Pacific Airport Efficiency Excellence Award
* TravelWeekly Best International Airport
* Air Cargo World Air Cargo Excellence
* Airports Council International World's Best Airport
* SmartTravelAsia.com Best Airport Worldwide
* TravelWeeklyChina Best Airport Facilities
* Business Traveller Best Airport in China
* TTG Best Airport
* Federation of Asia Pacific Aircargo Associations Most Friendly Airport for Cargo
* AETRA Best Airport Worldwide
* Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants Diamond - Best Corporate Governance Disclosure Awards
* Air Cargo News Cargo Airport of the Year
* International Air Transport Association [ Eagle Award
* WTA World Travel Awards Asia/ Pacific's Leading Airport
* Asiaweek Asia's Best Airport
* Raven Fox Award for Travel-Retail Excellence in Asia / Pacific
* British Constructional Steelwork Association, the Steel Construction Institute, and British Steel Structural Steel Design Award
* Hong Kong Institute of Architects Silver Medal for Architecture
* Construction Industry Manufacturers Association CONEXPO-CON/AGG '99 Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century - Airport Core Programme