Hong Kong’s airport designated as main aviation hub in Pearl River Delta over Shenzen

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, Paul Chan, has stressed that Hong Kong has been designated as a global aviation hub over rival Shenzhen under China’s ambitious plan to develop an economic powerhouse in the Pearl River Delta, the South China Morning Post reported.

In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, Mr Chan said the blueprint for the Greater Bay Area clearly differentiated Hong Kong from the 10 other cities in the cluster, and that local authorities were pushing for high value-added air cargo and logistics services.

Master plan enhancing Hong Kong’s regional status

Following Beijing’s blueprint for the bay area was announced two months ago, the central government gave the green light for Shenzhen’s plan to build its third runway and expand its Bao’an International Airport, only 36km from Hong Kong, raising fears the move would strain the region’s already crowded airspace.

“Shenzhen has its own needs for the third runway,” Mr Chan said. “If we find that’s not our cup of tea, then it’s not our cup of tea. That’s the important thing”. The master plan aims to consolidate and enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international finance, transport and trade centre, as well as a global aviation hub.

Chinese aviation blueprint confirming Hong Kong’s position in the region

Shenzhen will play its part as a special economic zone and home to China’s innovation and technology giants. Guangzhou will be called a provincial capital and national central city, and Macau a tourism centre and a platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries.

“The blueprint reconfirms Hong Kong’s position, which we have heard about multiple times, such as an international finance hub for initial public offerings, asset and wealth management, offshore yuan trade settlement, insurance services and arbitration,” Mr Chan said.

Third Hong Kong’s runway scheduled for 2024

Another high-value development is in boosting Hong Kong’s air cargo sector, which Mr Chan said accounted for HK$3.44 billion (US$441 million), or nearly 42 per cent of the city’s overall trade in terms of value in 2017.

“Therefore, we need our third runway urgently,” the Financial Secretary said. He pointed out that the city had for years urged the central government to allow Hong Kong to position itself as the region’s global aviation hub.

The completion of Hong Kong International Airport’s third runway is due in 2024 at a cost of HK$144 billion (US$18.3 billion). The Shenzhen airport expansion, costing CNY9.35 billion (US$1.38 billion), is expected to be ready by 2030.

Copyright 2016 HKSG Group Media Ltd.