HK airport transformation takes off with passenger experience in mind

Lam: while terminal upgrades are underway, there are plans for a SkyCity development that 'goes far beyond' the traditional concept of a shopping mall with options for retail, dining and entertainment as well as offices and hotels

As long-time regional rival Changi Airport gears up to open Jewel, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is set to undergo an expansion driven by a vision to transform the gateway into a destination in itself while coping with the anticipated increase in air traffic.

A central tenet of HKIA’s expansion plans is driven by passenger experience, including connecting to the 25ha Skycity mega integrated development – set to be completed in phases between 2023-2027 – as well as the acquisition of AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) last September, said Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), CEO, Fred Lam, speaking to the media on the sidelines of the ACI WAGA conference in Hong Kong last week.

Lam: while terminal upgrades are underway, there are also plans for SkyCity, which ‘goes far beyond’ the traditional concept of a shopping mall, with office and hotel spaces

Lam said: “The concept (of Skycity) goes far beyond the traditional notion of a shopping mall and will provides a full range of retail, dining and entertainment facilities plus offices and hotels. Right next to it is AWE which offers a wide range of facilities for conventions, exhibitions, entertainment and sporting events.”

“We took over the management (of AWE) recently and put together a plan to further expand the facility and space in order to capture growth and demand for entertainment and high-profile consumer events, making our airport a destination in itself,” he elaborated.

The airport chief is also hopeful of a wider market catchment in the Greater Bay Area that enhanced connectivity has brought.

With enhanced access to mainland China that the new infrastructure has brought, Lam is also hopeful of a wider Greater Bay Area market catchment.

He said: “We forecast air traffic demand will continue to grow in the coming years and to capitalise on that, we are expanding terminal capacity and services.”

In the immediate pipeline is the complete overhaul of Terminal 1 (T1), while in the longer term there plans to construct an additional runway, a new passenger concourse with 57 parking stands, and new automated people mover and baggage handling system.

“The construction works are on track for the new facilities to commence operation in 2024,” Lam shared.

AAHK also kick-started a slew of upgrades and rejuvenations of existing terminals. The new annex building scheduled to open in October 2019 next to T1 offers an additional check-in aisle with over 40 new counters and self-service bag drop; East Hall Food Court will have a new look and new outlets, a children’s playground and open air garden; as well as the Sky Bridge connecting T1 with the North Satellite Concourse.

From sea to air connection, the number of city check-in terminals within GBA will increase from 16 to 29 in future.

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