ALL-ROUND UP­GRADE

Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port is set for ma­jor ex­pan­sion, with a third runway, mega en­ter­tain­ment com­plex, a new ho­tel and more in the works

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

In 1998, a gleam­ing new Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port (HKIA) opened on the newly man­made is­land of Chek Lap Kok – an an­swer to the in­creas­ing conges­tion suf­fered at Kai Tak, with its sin­gle runway and cramped ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties. Fast-for­ward al­most 20 years, and HKIA has be­come the eighth busiest air­port in the world ac­cord­ing to the Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional, with a record 70.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in 2016. Pro­jec­tions for the next seven years ex­pect pas­sen­ger lev­els to hit up to 90 mil­lion.

It also hap­pens to be the busiest cargo air­port in the world, ship­ping some 4.3 mil­lion tons last year worth HK$3.2 bil­lion (US$410 mil­lion). How­ever, like many

air­ports, par­tic­u­larly around the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, a sharp in­crease in global air traf­fic is putting pres­sure on the in­fra­struc­ture, and HKIA is now in the midst of a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar ex­pan­sion plan to fu­ture-proof its han­dling ca­pac­ity.

Part of the ur­gency comes from two other ma­jor trans­porta­tion projects near­ing com­ple­tion in Hong Kong, which are ex­pected to fur­ther in­crease de­mand: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Ma­cau bridge (sched­uled to open in De­cem­ber) and the up­com­ing Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok road link (de­layed to 2020 for com­ple­tion). When these two ma­jor ven­tures are com­plete, HKIA will have an en­larged catch­ment area of around 60 mil­lion peo­ple within a two-hour drive.

UP­DAT­ING IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE

In Au­gust 2016, af­ter pro­tracted de­lib­er­a­tion, the three­run way sys­tem (3RS) was of­fi­cially launched, with the eight-year project ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional by 2024. A whop­ping 650 hectares of land will be re­claimed to cre­ate a new runway, taxi­way sys­tem and the Third Runway Pas­sen­ger Build­ing, which will be con­nected to Ter­mi­nal 2 by a new au­to­mated peo­ple-mover sys­tem.

The mam­moth project, es­ti­mated to cost HK$141.5 bil­lion (US$18 bil­lion), will also in­clude a new high­speed bag­gage han­dling sys­tem and ex­panded road and trans­porta­tion net­works.

“The 3RS is a crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture project to sup­port the avi­a­tion in­dus­try and the long-term eco­nomic

de­vel­op­ment of Hong Kong,” says Jack So Chak Kwong, chair­man of Air­port Author­ity Hong Kong. “We ur­gently need this ex­pan­sion as HKIA’s ex­ist­ing two-runway sys­tem will reach its full ca­pac­ity soon. With the ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity pro­vided by the 3RS, air­lines can pro­vide more des­ti­na­tions and more fre­quent flights, and pas­sen­gers will have more choice and con­ve­nience.”

Some­what con­tro­ver­sial is the Air­port Author­ity’s de­ci­sion to levy an “Air­port Con­struc­tion Fee” on out­bound pas­sen­gers to fund the third runway project. This was im­ple­mented in Au­gust and ranges from HK$70 (US$9) for econ­omy short-haul pas­sen­gers to HK$180 (US$23) for long-dis­tance first and busi­ness pas­sen­gers. The fund­ing is ex­pected to gen­er­ate up to HK$26 bil­lion (US$3.3 bil­lion) to­wards the project by 2024.

In ad­di­tion to the 3RS project, there are a num­ber of other ex­ten­sions and ad­di­tions in the works – with some al­ready com­pleted. The HK$2.5 bil­lion (US$320 mil­lion) West Apron Ex­pan­sion was com­pleted in 2014, pro­vid­ing 28 ad­di­tional park­ing stands for cargo and main­te­nance, while two years ago HKIA opened the HK$10 bil­lion (US$1.3 bil­lion) Mid­field Con­course (MFC). Lo­cated to the west of Ter­mi­nal 1, be­tween the two ex­ist­ing run­ways, the MFC has in­creased the air­port’s ca­pac­ity by ten mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year and now han­dles roughly 20 per cent of all traf­fic. It is con­nected to Ter­mi­nal 1 via an ex­ten­sion of the Au­to­mated Peo­ple Mover sys­tem.

Mov­ing for­ward, a HK$7 bil­lion (US$895 mil­lion) en­hance­ment project for Ter­mi­nal 1 is also set to com­mence. It will see more than 40 new checkin coun­ters with self-bag drop fa­cil­i­ties and two ad­di­tional bag­gage re­claim carousels in­stalled. Other hard­ware in­vest­ments will in­clude an ad­di­tional an­nex build­ing, 1,400 ad­di­tional car park­ing spa­ces, an avi­a­tion academy and HKIA preschool, plus staff fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing a sports cen­tre.

An­other ma­jor in­vest­ment is the planned “Sky Bridge” – a pedes­trian bridge con­nect­ing Ter­mi­nal 1 and the North Satel­lite Con­course (NSC, which opened in 2010 with ten air­bridge stands for nar­row­body air­craft). The weath­er­proof foot­bridge, equipped with 24-hour mov­ing walk­ways, will re­duce pas­sen­gers’ trav­el­ling time and re­move the cur­rent need for shut­tle buses, as well as en­abling the NSC to serve a greater num­ber of flights.

EX­PE­RI­EN­TIAL TRAVEL

While cater­ing to the ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture is­sues, Hong Kong air­port is also us­ing the ex­pan­sion to cre­ate a new “air­port ex­pe­ri­ence” based around en­ter­tain­ment, life­style and ex­pe­ri­en­tial of­fer­ings – the Sky Bridge be­ing a per­fect ex­am­ple.

At 28 me­tres above ground, it will al­low the largest A380 air­craft to taxi un­der­neath (func­tional, from an apron lo­gis­tics point of view), and will also be out­fit­ted with an ob­ser­va­tion deck, giv­ing plane spot­ters rare birds-eye views as the air­craft pass un­der­neath. F&B out­lets will also be in­stalled in the two tow­ers at ei­ther end of the 200-me­tre bridge to of­fer more life­style op­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the Air­port Author­ity, sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­en­tial re­vamps will be in­tro­duced to board­ing gates, with the possibility of de­sign themes, smart tech­nol­ogy and green fea­tures.

Some of the most sig­nif­i­cant life­style en­hance­ments will come in 2020, with the com­ple­tion of HK$7 bil­lion (US$895 mil­lion) worth of im­prove­ments to Ter­mi­nal 1. The East Hall will see the ad­di­tion of a two-storey play area for chil­dren, a recre­ational zone for adults and the re­design of the food hall. It will also get a large roof garden with an al­fresco din­ing area – the first sig­nif­i­cant out­door space in the re­stricted ar­eas of the air­port (though there are now two bal­conies in the Mid­field Con­course – one des­ig­nated for smok­ers).

“The en­hance­ment projects for Ter­mi­nal 1, to­gether with the three-runway sys­tem in 2024, will in­crease the air­port’s han­dling ca­pac­ity, as well as bring a fresh look

and feel, ”says Fred Lam, CEO of Air­port Author­ity Hong Kong. “Pas­sen­gers from around the world will en­joy an ex­pe­ri­ence tan­ta­mount to trav­el­ling through a new air­port.”

LIFE­STYLE DES­TI­NA­TION

The most ex­cit­ing leisure-cen­tric ad­di­tion how­ever is the ma­jor Skyc­ity de­vel­op­ment, a huge en­ter­tain­ment com­plex to be lo­cated next to Ter­mi­nal 2. The gi­ant 668,000 sqm hub will have five key con­cepts in­clud­ing“cy­ber tain­ment”, “edu­tain­ment”, a “gourmet king­dom”, “ac­tion and ex­cite­ment” and “events”, plus a solid re­tail el­e­ment.

A teaser video has re­vealed that pas­sen­gers can ex­pect a di­verse range of op­tions, from vir­tual re­al­ity ar­cade games and sim­u­lated sky­div­ing to wa­ter­slides and in­ter­na­tional cuisines. Event groups are also be­ing tar­geted, with new spa­ces to host car prod­uct launches or ex­trav­a­gant con­certs.

Ac­cord­ing to Jack So, Skyc­ity aims to cap­ture broad op­por­tu­ni­ties in tourism and busi­ness, while also pro­vid­ing a dy­namic life­style and fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment hub for Hong Kong res­i­dents and vis­i­tors alike. “Our vi­sion is to cre­ate a new des­ti­na­tion that goes far be­yond the tra­di­tional no­tion of a shop­ping mall,” he says.

The first phase is due to open in 2020, with 195,000 sqm of re­tail, din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment space. Skyc­ity will also boast a brand-new air­port ho­tel – the Re­gal Skyc­ity Air­port Ho­tel, which will of­fer 1,200 gue­strooms and suites, a 1,000-guest pil­lar­less ball­room, four restau­rants and other leisure fa­cil­i­ties.

This will join its sis­ter prop­erty, the Re­gal Air­port Ho­tel, the 658-room Skyc­ity Mar­riott Ho­tel (at­tached to the Asia World Expo ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre) and the Novo­tel Ci­ty­gate ho­tel in Tung Chung.

John Gi­rard, Re­gal Ho­tels’ vice pres­i­dent and area gen­eral man­ager for Hong Kong, says: “The new Re­gal Skyc­ity Air­port ho­tel will be an iconic land­mark and pro­vide a dy­namic new des­ti­na­tion ho­tel.”

SHOP­PING SPREE

Reg­u­lar fa­cil­i­ties are also be­ing given a re­vamp in line with a more “ex­pe­ri­en­tial” of­fer­ing. The duty-free shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence re­cently un­der­went a ma­jor shakeup with long­stand­ing op­er­a­tor DFS los­ing its con­tract.

In­stead, the Air­port Author­ity has awarded the du­tyfree liquor and to­bacco con­ces­sion to the joint China Duty Free-La­gardere com­pany (CDF), while per­fumes, cos­met­ics and fash­ion ac­ces­sories will be taken over by Korean gi­ant Shilla.

The new con­ces­sions will bring fresh con­cepts such as a whisky cham­ber, in-store VIP lounge and more. CDF has even stated it will of­fer “vir­tual re­al­ity” fa­cil­i­ties at its bou­tiques. Shilla is also ex­pected to of­fer a mod­ern take, with al­most 100 new brands, a ded­i­cated zone for male beauty prod­ucts and a “New Gen­er­a­tion” zone to pro­mote new prod­ucts.

LOUNGE UP­GRADES

Pas­sen­gers can also ex­pect to see the “life­style” at­mos­phere be­ing em­braced by lounge op­er­a­tors. Plaza Pre­mium is set to open two new lounges by the end of 2017, ad­ja­cent to the East Hall. One of these will be the “Plaza Pre­mium First”– an en­tirely new brand that aims to ex­ceed cur­rent stan­dards of busi­ness and first class lounge of­fer­ings.

“In terms of the ser­vice pro­vi­sion, it’s def­i­nitely higher than what the ex­ist­ing air­port lounges can

pro­vide, be­cause we’re talk­ing about a va­ri­ety of quite ex­pe­ri­en­tial of­fer­ings,” says James Yap, gen­eral man­ager of Plaza Pre­mium Hong Kong. “The whole idea is to sur­pass all the other lounges.”

Among these of­fer­ings will be a co-branded whisky bar with high-end cham­pagne and whisky brands, plus an à la carte din­ing area with live cook­ing sta­tions, manned on oc­ca­sion by celebrity chefs. A sep­a­rate event space (that can dou­ble up as an over­flow area at peak times) will also be avail­able for VIP events such as wine-tast­ing ses­sions.

Hong Kong Air­lines will also de­but a new lounge this month. Lo­cated in the MFC, the of­fer­ing will be dou­ble the size of the cur­rent Club Bauhinia in Ter­mi­nal 1, and boast a mod­ern de­sign. New fea­tures will in­clude a num­ber of VIP rooms with au­dio­vi­sual tech­nol­ogy to cater to meet­ings and con­fer­ence calls; rest ar­eas with shower fa­cil­i­ties; and ex­cit­ing new din­ing op­tions fo­cused on pro­vid­ing a lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence with Hong Kong street food spe­cial­i­ties such as egg waf­fles.

An­other highly an­tic­i­pated lounge will be the launch of American Express’s Cen­tu­rion Lounge when it opens in Ter­mi­nal 1 later this year. Card mem­bers will be able to en­joy com­pli­men­tary food, pre­mium wines and cock­tails from top som­me­liers and mixol­o­gists, high-speed wifi, shower fa­cil­i­ties, noise-buffer­ing work sta­tions and more.

Above: An artist’s im­pres­sion of the Skyc­ity en­ter­tain­ment com­plex

Clock­wise from op­po­site page top: A rendering of the planned Sky Bridge; in­side Skyc­ity; and the East Hall Recre­ational Zone

Left and above: The East Hall Roof Garden; and the Plaza Pre­mium Lounge East Hall

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