Take Offs & Land­ings

Long a prime gate­way to Asia, to­day’s Hong Kong air­port con­nects the world

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE EVERY ISSUE - By Jerome Greer Chan­dler

To­day’s Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional con­nects the world. Plus Den­ver’s South Ter­mi­nal Re­de­vel­op­ment Pro­ject rises. United ex­tends its lease with Ne­wark Lib­erty. Eti­had un­veils its new pre­mium lounge at IAD. First sched­uled pas­sen­ger ser­vice at Dubai Al Mak­toum planned for Oc­to­ber.

Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional pos­sesses lit­tle of the in­trigue of its pre­de­ces­sor – the in­fa­mous Kai Tak, with its sin­gu­larly im­prob­a­ble in­nercity place­ment. The old HKG had the most as­ton­ish­ing ap­proach on the planet, one in which fliers pressed their noses to cabin win­dows in fa­tal­is­tic fas­ci­na­tion as they gazed gape-jawed at the vi­sion of laun­dry­laden apart­ment houses flash­ing by – so close you could al­most read the lo­gos on the T-shirts.

Kai Tak’s been closed for some fif­teen years now, an all-but aban­doned scar jut­ting into Vic­to­ria Har­bor. Busi­ness trav­el­ers go­ing to, and through, Hong Kong have it far bet­ter than for­mer fliers. While it may not have the panache of its an­ces­tor air­port, this it­er­a­tion of HKG gets you where you’re go­ing in a way the old Kai Tak never could. In place of the drama, what pas­sen­gers get is pre­dictabil­ity – not to men­tion con­sum­mate con­nec­tions.

North Amer­ica con­nects non­stop to Hong Kong via seven air­por­tals. United and Cathay Pa­cific both fly non­stop from Chicago O’Hare. Cathay also makes the trip non­stop from Los An­ge­les. From New York Kennedy it’s Cathay again, while United does the duty out of its Ne­wark gate­way. San Fran­cisco’s got the most com­pe­ti­tion to Hong Kong: Cathay Pa­cific, United and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines. From Toronto you can make the 7,793-mile sojourn on Cathay or Air Canada. Those two car­ri­ers also com­pete non­stop from Van­cou­ver, at 6,367 miles as the Boe­ing flies, the clos­est North Amer­i­can gate­way to Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional.

When you get to Hong Kong, the Asian op­tions are le­gion. Cathay Pa­cific and sub­sidiary Drag­o­nair chore­o­graph much of the main­land Chi­nese con­nec­tions here. The for­mer feeds Hong Kong from the wider world. The lat­ter fun­nels fliers to China and South­east Asia – to the likes of Bei­jing, Chengdu, Chongquing, Da Nang, Jan­jing, Ningbo, Phonom Penh, Wuhan, Zengzhou and other far away places with strange-sound­ing names. Hong Kong con­nects to more than 50 main­land Chi­nese cities, and a to­tal of 170 across the globe. Con­sider: half of the world’s teem­ing pop­u­la­tion is less than five fly­ing hours away.

In­ter­modal In­no­va­tor

Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional, like the city it serves, is a crea­ture of ge­og­ra­phy. That’s good, and some­times not so good. Flanked to one side by moun­tains, winds can on oc­ca­sion be tricky at the air­port. The other side of the field abuts the sea, specif­i­cally the Pearl River Delta. That’s the good part. From HKG’s SkyPier you can hop a ferry to eight ports ar­rayed around the Delta, in­clud­ing Shen­zhen and Ma­cao.

Get­ting to Hong Kong Is­land or Kowloon isn’t nearly as daunt­ing as you might think for an air­port that lies 21 miles away from the bank­ing and com­merce cen­ters of the city. The Air­port Ex­press is one of the fastest, clean­est, most con­ve­nient air­port trains this Busi­ness Trav­eler re­porter has ever rid­den. The ex­press will rocket you to Cen­tral in a scant 24 min­utes. The fare to Hong Kong Is­land is HK$100 ($13), while the tab for a trip to Kowloon is HK$90 ($11.60). Air­port Ex­press of­fers gratis in-town check-in at both those sta­tions.

Taxis are more than a tad more ex­pen­sive, and not as fast – es­pe­cially

Op­po­site page: Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port Left: The old HKG

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