The Evolution of Hong Kong’s Airport City

27th March 2024

As the effects of COVID recede, major international airports, including Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), are racing to regain market share in order to be recognised as regional hubs. In order to do this, airports are evolving by expanding their connections, features and focal points. HKIA’s catchment area is set to increase as part of the integration in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), with cross border travel becoming ever more accessible..  HKIA is also an increasingly important infrastructure asset, underpinning Hong Kong’s economic growth and development.

Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 (now demolished) 2018

Despite a relatively late opening from COVID, Hong Kong’s passenger figures continue to grow, hitting 41m in the 12 months to the end of January 2024. This represents 80% of pre-COVID traffic levels.

Hong Kong’s budget delivered at the end of February, reiterated that HKIA is seen not just as an airport but also as an important economic engine for Hong Kong and for the GBA.  Consequently, HKIA is part way through a 10 year, HK$140 billion investment to upgrade the facilities into 2030 and beyond. Notwithstanding the huge drop in traffic in recent years, these development projects continued throughout COVID and are now beginning to come to fruition.

Hong Kong Airport Development

Hong Kong Airport Reclamation Ongoing October 2019

Three Runway System (3RS)

The major development project is theThree Runway System (3RS) project. The 3RS project commenced in August 2016, and is critical for meeting future air traffic volumes at Hong Kong International Airport and strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a leading economic and aviation hub. It is also integral to Hong Kong’s long-term vision to transform HKIA from a city airport into an Airport City.

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Reclamation progress January 2021

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Third Runway Reclamation

The 3RS project broadly comprises:

1. Land reclamation and formation of approximately 650 hectares (complete);

2. Construction of the Third Runway (complete);

3. Reconfiguration of the Centre Runway (ongoing);

4. Construction of a new Terminal 2 passenger concourse (T2C) and aircraft parking (ongoing);

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Terminal 2 Concourse Building October 2023

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Demolition of the Existing Terminal 2 Building March 2021

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Terminal 2 Expansion Project July 2022

6. A new Automated People Mover (APM) system, includes serving T2 (ongoing);

7. A new Baggage Handling System, includes serving T2 (ongoing); and,

8. A comprehensive new road network and transportation facilities (ongoing).

Land reclamation and pavement works for the third runway were completed in September 2021 and operation of the Third Runway commenced in July 2022. The centre runway is currently closed for reconfiguration.

Inaugural Flight on Third Runway

The Airport Authority last provided an update on the progress of the Three Runway System to the  Legislative Council (LEGCO) Panel on economic development  in December 2023.  The report noted that substantial completion of the majority of the pavement construction of the Centre Runway; the concrete structure of Terminal 2, sections of the tunnel structure for the APM and baggage handling system, and the substructure of the central node and main concourse area of the terminal 2 concourse. Despite press reports of a significant delay to the third runway project, the government insisted that the third runway project would be completed on time at the end of 2024.

HKIA Air Cargo

Last year, 2023, HKIA was again ranked as the world’s busiest air cargo hub processing approximately 5 million tonnes of cargo.  The capacity of the airport is set to increase significantly with the recent completion of a new 380,000 sqm logistics centre for Alibaba, an HK$2.9bn expansion of the DHL Express hub, and the recent announcement of a new cargo handling facility for UPS with a handling capacity of 1 million tonnes.

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Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals

Airport City

Airport City was first proposed by AAHK in 2016 with the objective of fully capitalising on Chek Lap Kok’s geographical location and the catchment area it benefits from in terms of the needs and desires of people and organisations, nationally and internationally.  The proposed development will further develop exhibition centres, immersive retail experiences, state of the art commercial offices and luxury hospitality.  The projects comprising Airport City include:


· AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) Phase 2 Development

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11 Skies November 2022

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Sky City © Hong Kong Airport Authority

11 Skies and Asia World Expo, developments are aimed at creating a vibrant hub of leisure and commerce, conventions and exhibitions, with aviation as its core business.  The SKYCITY retail development, 11 Skies, comprises a dining and entertainment area with 800 shops and 120 dining concepts.  Three office towers provide maximum GFA of 52,000 sq metres whilst a second phase of development for Asia World Expo will create a 20,000-seat performance venue and expand the exhibition space to approximately 100,000 sq metres.

Local and Regional Integration

The integration of the SKYCity with Tung Chung and the Hong Kong Port (HKP) will also be further developed. HKP Island adjacent to HKIA is undergoing further development as part of Airport City concept. Automated parking systems for cross border customers will allow passengers arriving from the HZMB to fly out of HKIA whilst clearing immigration at HKIA.

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Hong Kong Port Developments

The HKP Island will also house the Hong Kong International Aviation Academy campus and student dormitories devoted to developing a local workforce to serve the aviation industry.

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Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong Macau Zhuhai Bridge January 2021

HKIA’s forthcoming integration projects include the Airport City Link, an autonomous transport system linking the Airport, HZMB Port and Tung Chung. The Airport City Link will introduce a fully autonomous vehicle link, running approximately 3.8km in length, that will link Airport City, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKZM Port) and Tung Chung.

Parts of this link will accommodate a pedestrian walkway.  The bridge linking HKP Island to Airport Island will be developed with two discrete functions.  ACL will be a bridge that links the HKP Passenger Clearance Building directly with SKYCITY for among others leisure, entertainment and shopping.  The ITT Bonded Vehicular Bridge will be in an area designated Restricted Area and will only serve cross border air transit passengers from Zhuhai and Macao.

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HITT Bonded Bridge

About Contract Dispute Consultants

Contract Dispute Consultants continue to support contractors throughout the current airport expansion project delivery. This includes support to live projects in the form of contract advice, claims administration, negotiation and dispute support.  Our experience at HKIA extends all the way back to 1996 and covers infrastructure, reclamation, terminal construction, and existing terminal gate transformation.

Stonecutters bridge, Hong Kong

HKIA Midfield Terminal