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Expanding airport set for major jobs take-off

Published on Friday, 21 Feb 2014
Growth in aviation demand is likely to boost jobs at Hong Kong International Airport by 50 per cent by 2030.
Picture: Nora Tam

Direct employment associated with Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is set to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2030, thanks to steady passenger growth and rising aviation demand.

Estimates by International Air Transport Association Consulting show that even at a base-case level, HKIA is set to receive 102.3 million passengers and 8.9 million tonnes of cargo per year by 2030, while handling 607,000 flight movements.

Last year, HKIA set new annual records of 59.9 million passengers and more than 370,000 aircraft movements, representing annual growth of 6.1 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively. Cargo throughput rose 2.4 per cent year on year to reach more than four million tonnes.

"To meet these anticipated unconstrained demands, the Airport Authority Hong Kong is now planning and implementing a series of capacity-enhancement initiatives," a spokesperson for the HKIA said.

In the medium term, the Airport Authority is investing more than HK$12 billion to develop new facilities. These include 20 aircraft parking stands, which entered into service last year. Another eight will become operational this year, as well as a midfield concourse and associated facilities. When open in 2015, these facilities will serve another 10 million passengers a year.

"We are seeing rising demand for aircraft parking spaces due to growing air traffic, continuous fleet expansions by airlines and the introduction of new types of aircraft," said CK Ng, deputy director of airport operations at the Airport Authority.

In the long term, the authority is now studying the building of a third runway at HKIA, with construction likely to start in 2016 and be completed by 2023. Currently, the practical capacity of the two-runway system is only 420,000 flight movements.

"Upon the completion of the third runway, direct employment associated with HKIA would increase from the current 65,000 to 141,000 by 2023," the spokesperson said.

This momentous growth is driven by Hong Kong's excellent geographical location, which facilitates its role as an international and regional aviation centre and as a preferred gateway to the mainland.

Last year, not only did HKIA break new records in terms of passenger throughput, the airport was also inducted into the Travel Hall of Fame of travel publication TTG (Travel Trade Gazette).

Stanley Hui Hon-chung, CEO of the Airport Authority Hong Kong, said the award was recognition of "the hard work and tireless contributions of the 65,000-strong airport community". He added that 2013 was also a year of development, where airport facilities were enhanced to keep in stride with the fast pace of growth.

According to the Airport Authority's manpower statistics, the 65,000 staff currently working at HKIA are made up mostly of the airport's business partners. These include airlines; service franchises such as aviation-logistics service providers; and service contractors, such as cleaning and service contractors. Of these, about 12,000 work in manual or low-skilled jobs.

"We expect over 50 per cent of new jobs created will be manual or low-skilled workers, which Hong Kong now is most in need of for these employment opportunities," the spokesperson said.

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