Hong Kong’s chief executive is “confident” the city will remain a leading international aviation hub despite reigning a zero-COVID strategy.
In her policy address to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Carrie Lam announced several new strategies to sustain Hong Kong’s local aviation industry while preparing for the post-pandemic recovery.
“Although the global aviation industry, with Hong Kong being no exception, has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Lam.
“I remain confident that our status as an international aviation hub could be consolidated and enhanced.”
The construction of the third runway at Hong Kong International Airport is almost developed, set to be commissioned next year and completed in 2024, according to Lam.
The project began in 2016 and is part of a larger US$18.2 billion mega-airport expansion.
The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) welcomed Lam’s support to “uphold” the nation as an international aviation hub.
“The AA continues to proactively push forward multiple plans related to the Airport City development, among which the pavement works of Three-runway System (3RS) project’s new runway has been completed.”
The runway will be 3.8 kilometres long, occupying around 650 hectares of land.
Secondly, Lam said the government is slated to establish a high-end aviation industrial cluster in Zhuhai, partnering with the Guangdong Province.
It will include aircraft maintenance engineering, manufacturing and distribution of aircraft, components, and research.
Zhunhai is part of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), along with eight other regions including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in the Guangdong province.
CEO of Cathay Pacific – Hong Kong’s flag carrier – Augustus Tang said the city has an “unrivalled position” in the GBA and the aviation hub will allow for “easier access” to a broader number of customers.
“The expanded connectivity to and from the burgeoning Greater Bay Area directly from Hong Kong presents the city with enormous growth opportunities,” Tang added.
Hong Kong has kept a tight grip on international travel to maintain its zero-COVID strategy, especially to encourage vaccinations to eventually open borders.
Since April, the nation has maintained a steady seven-day average of under eight cases, and Lam said Hong Kong is “ready again for a new start” to re-establish its economy.
In early September, Hong Kong set its first ease of restrictions for people from mainland China to avoid strict quarantine upon arrival, after increasing pressure from struggling businesses.
Despite this, critics have said the government has prioritised mainland China over its international connections.
Earlier this week, Lam said opening to the mainland is “more important” than opening its international borders, implying strict quarantine will likely remain for a while longer with other countries.
“As long as we can resume border crossing without quarantine, we will do our best to satisfy whatever the central government asks us to do,” she added.
I’ve previously used Cathay flying from Adelaide to Europe and return-but no more. Why would I risk an Hong Kong stopover?
Totally agree, but I am disappointed for Cathay as they are a good airline.
Border crossing without quarantine between mainland and Hong Kong, in both directions, isn’t forecasted to happen before February or March 2022. Then mainland will probably require that to be successful without new COVID cases coming in from Hong Kong, for another 6,9 or 12 months. So quarantine free arrival into Hong Kong from the rest of the world is still far far off. End 2022 or beginning 2023 at the earliest.
The only way Hong Kong can remain an Int Hub under these circumstances, is if the passenger transit segment starts to increase again. And seeing Australia planning on opening the int borders next year, that will hopefully help.
Let’s just hope this zero COVID strategy won’t be Hong Kong’s fall down ?♂️
Given her role in crushing human rights and democracy in Hong Kong, I don’t have any faith in what Lam has to say at this point.
Totally agree, so sad as it was one of my favourite business and holiday destinations.
Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite places in the world I have been a frequent visitor for many years from the 1960s when I was a young RAN sailor to later years as a tourist. Due to the human rights abuses and the death of democracy China has imposed on HK, I will never visit again which saddens me greatly.
Cathay Pacific, a once great airline must first dig its way out of a toxic and broken relationship with its own staff. Carrie Lam has the same problem with the people of HK, both a massive & unlikely task to undertake, given the breach of trust and total disregard for peoples wellbeing.