CLK to cover entire Pearl estuary by 2026

In an uncharacteristic display of admirably devious lateral thinking, the Hong Kong authorities divert public attention away from the proposed HK$136 billion third runway for the city’s airport by starting to push for a fourth. Why didn’t they think of this earlier? They could have pulled the rug out from under the environmentalists objecting to the bridge to Zhuhai by announcing, just days later, plans for adjacent bridges to Hainan and Hanoi. They could have confounded the knavish activist-detractors opposing the high-speed rail link to Shenzhen by simultaneously unveiling the Kwun Tong-Szechuan non-stop monorail.

After announcing their intention to throw some HK$150 billion (give or take) of our money down the toilet on the idiotic bridge and rail schemes, the infrastructure freaks’ next big idea – a third runway – was bound to be greeted with sneers and protests. Much of the debate is over who should pay for it: should the taxpayer gift the thing to the airline, tourism and freight industries, or should we get some market discipline working by building it with private finance and auctioning off the slots? There is the emotional issue of dolphin welfare. Some commentators believe we can expand existing capacity through better use of large aircraft or Mainland airspace or airports.

The runway lobby meanwhile are mounting an absurdly lavish publicity campaign claiming that the impact of a new strip of reclamation and concrete on GDP will be equivalent to turning all 7 million Hongkongers into millionaires overnight. Conversely, failure to maintain our role as an Aviation Hub will result in unimaginable destitution, with children and cuddle puppy dogs starving on the streets. (Interesting aside: the most gleaming airports tend to be in loser cities like Dubai and Shanghai; meanwhile, the planet’s two leading financial centres have, in JFK and Heathrow, overcrowded and stinking slums to fly in and out of. Close CLK and reopen Kai Tak?)

Putting all that aside, however, we can be pretty sure that – unlike the other two white elephants – people would actually use an extension to the airport. It might indeed make more economic or environmental sense for us to take a ferry to Shenzhen to catch a B737 to some rinky-dink place like Zunyi, or change planes in Tokyo to get to Washington DC, but most of us would pay a bit more for the convenience of direct flights.

If they had any integrity left, the planners would essentially say: “Yes a third runway is a bit of a wasteful boondoggle insofar as we could probably get by without it, but you’ll appreciate it when it’s there.” Instead, after blowing credibility on pointless earlier mega-projects, they must resort to ever more extreme and desperate methods to convince the suckers who will have to pay for it. And threats. Start nodding and agreeing, or we reveal plans for Runway Number 5.

Click to hear the Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Expecting to Fly’!


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11 Responses to CLK to cover entire Pearl estuary by 2026

  1. Stephen says:

    This isn’t exact but as an example …

    London – Heathrow – Int’l Scheduled, Gatwick – Int’l Charter,
    City / Stanstead – Short Haul

    Hence would it not be possible too …

    PDR – Hong Kong – Int’l Scheduled, Zhuhai – Int’l Charter / Budget Carriers, Macao – Short Haul

    A bit of better planning and connectivity or the $136B blow out of taxpayers money? It’s is a no contest which the HK Government will select.

  2. Mary Hinge says:

    If no-one’s going to use the Macau/Zhuhai/HK bridge (and, let’s face it, no-one will), then build it with a aviation re-fuelling pipeline attached, and just have the planes land on that. Plenty of room. Add a few ferry piers at appropriate junctures to move the peeps and bags, and away we go! The bridge can double as HK’s 3rd, 4th and 5th runways, as well as Macau’s 2nd. Should last us at least until 3Q/2025, I reckon.

    Hey presto! HK$138+ billion saved, at a stroke.

    No need for lavish ceremonies, Donald, you can just send me my BBS in the post, thanks.

  3. Singabore says:

    Interesting aside: the most gleaming airports tend to be in loser cities….

    Changi Airport is quite nice….

  4. Maugrim says:

    Remember when the Chinese were shitty that we wasted all that money building CLK in the first place? Anyway, having a decent airport at the end of the road is one of HK’s redeeming features. What would they spend the money on anyway? Some bauble to appease the Central Government such as the East Asia games perhaps? At least a decent, functioning airport does have some benefits to HK. As to the dolphins, pfffft, Im sure some of the expat dog crowd (remember the girl whose dog escaped at the airport? That would be karmic) could mount a protest that would at least be worth watching.

  5. Bigot says:

    $136B ? And the HK Govt is bitching about a meagre $0.15B for funding a by-election?

  6. Stinger says:

    Beijing: three runways.
    Shanghai: three runways with a fourth in development.
    Singapore: two runways with a third in development.

    Everybody panic.

  7. Xiao Yao says:

    Stinger’s logic is impeccable. Could serve as Introduction to a book called “How to think like an HK ‘leader’.”

  8. Real tax payer says:

    I agree 100% with Bigot and Stinger ( especially Bigot)
    I vote US$136B to look f ay quantum level for the remaining braincells in weasel – Lam’s head ( even less after he got high on pot before the horse’s presentation as captured on yesterday’s amazing video )

    But on a more serious note :

    1.Someone the other day pointed out in the SCMP that Gatwick achieves almost the same number of flights / 24 -day with just one runway as CLK achieves now with two runways, due to much better air traffic control

    2. During the GREAT WORLWIDE FINACIAL CRISIS OF 2009 I did start using SZ as take -off point to inland China instead of CLK for cheapness , using the HK$160 limousine service from Wanchai/ TST to SZ airport via SZ Bay : max 90 minutes drive time doorstep- to-doorstep, with the added advantage that one cleared China immigation in one minute while still seated in the limousine (no more long immigration queues in SH or BJ !) UNFORTUNATELY SZ Customs screwed this up by doing random customs checks of vehicles which can last up to 90 minutes, meaning one must now leave HK at least 4 hours before take-off time in SZ . ( All that extra work and manpower just to catch one smuggled i-Pad / day)

    3. The flights leaving SZ for inland China by midday, which is when I finally got there, were often delayed by 2 – 3 hours, so it was late afternoon before I ever got to my destination in China, and much the worse for wear.

    Moral : stick to god ole KA from CLK and let the company pay the extra cost . At least the girls on KA are pretty and the food is good. And it’s SAFE !

    Golden rule of business flights : must have the same number of safe landings as safe take-offs.

  9. Walter De Havilland says:

    No, the golden rule of flying is you only have too much fuel aboard when on fire!

  10. gunlaw says:

    By 2025 flying machines won’t need runways.

  11. Ah, the clash of NIMBY-pimbys and bureaucratic morons ruining any credibility they previously might have had. Having actually read the whole 3rd runways proposal (a couple hundred pages? ), it does look rather daft that it only buys 10~15 years worth of capacity. It’d be a bit like closing Kai Tak and blowing huge amount of money on prostiti… errr, on the new CLK airport and had it run up to capacity limit in 2008. Not so smart.

    As for Gatwick getting by with (effectively, due to lack of separation) just one runway, aside from the inefficient use of airspace as dictated by the PLA, there is also the bigger issue of terrain, namely the huge mountains on Lantau itself and Western NT by the way of Castle Peak and Tai Mo Shan. So the numbers they came up with in terms of movement limits for CLK take all that into account. Plus HKG handles more wide bodies than LGW, which in turn need more separation and thus less aircrafts/hour.

    Then HKG itself, this year it became the busiest freight handling airport, pipping Memphis, USA. The flag carrier, Cathay Pacific is also really a cargo airline that just happens to carry people as well. Plus new local carriers that want some of CX’s pie and shall be expanding aggressively over the new decade or so.

    As for the mainland airport runway count… it’s actually more like this:

    Shenzhen Airport: 1 current, 2 by this year, room for 3.
    Macau Airport: 1 current
    Guangzhou Airport: 2 current with 3rd coming, room for 5.
    Shanghai Pudong Airport: 3 current, room for 5.
    Shanghai Hongqiao Airport: 2 current. Maxed out.
    Beijing Capital Airport: 3 current. Maxed?
    Beijing Daxing (New) Airport: 8… yes, eight!

    Dutch article:
    … and a video:

    … and should be ready by 2017.

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