Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport, also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, is the 10th busiest airport in the world according to passenger traffic, and it is the busiest in the world in terms of cargo. Due to extremely limited space in the Hong Kong area, the airport was constructed on a partially man-made island. Its construction is considered one of the most ambitious and successful municipal projects in the world. The airport is located about 20 miles west of downtown Hong Kong near Tung Chung Bay, which is just north of Lantau Island. The airport services flights to every continent on earth except Antarctica.
History of the Airport
The construction of Hong Kong International began in 1991; however, plans to replace the existing Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon Bay had been in the works since the 1970s. Hong Kong’s existing airport, which had only one runway and limited gate space, was considered inadequate to meet the already heavy air-traffic demands of the time. In order to create an airport with enough space for long runways and large terminals, planners chose to create an artificial island. They accomplished this by leveling the existing islands of Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau and reclaiming much of the surrounding seabed. By the time Hong Kong International Airport was finished in 1998, six years had passed and $20 billion had been spent, making it the most expensive airport construction in history.
Hong Kong International Airport consists of one main terminal for departures and arrivals. When it opened in 1998, it was the largest aircraft passenger terminal in the world. It has 49 gates that are able to service a wide variety of small to jumbo aircraft, including the Airbus A380. Hong Kong International also has a second terminal, but it is only used as a check-in area for departing passengers. The Airport Authority has future plans for the construction of 20 additional gates through brand new concourses located in the midfield section of the airport. There are also tentative plans to construct a third runway, significantly increasing aircraft movement capacity.
Hong Kong International has many high-tech innovations that allow for more efficient airport operations and passenger comfort. An automated people-mover system helps passengers travel quickly to and from one end of the terminal to the other free of charge; fast travel is also assisted by moving walkways. The basement level of terminal one has an advanced baggage handling system that can quickly transfer baggage between connecting flights or between planes and passenger handling areas. In the last decade, the Airport Authority has made Hong Kong International more accessible to more passengers throughout the region. They added a 36-bay coach station for high amounts of bus traffic and a SkyPier for high-speed ferries.
Ground transportation to and from the airport is abundant. 25 different bus routes to destinations all across the Hong Kong area operate most of the day. There are several 24-hour bus routes and private coaches that make the airport accessible at all hours. Ferry services are offered to several ports throughout the Pearl River Delta. Since international passengers do not need to pass customs before boarding a ferry, ferry passengers are provided check-in services at the various ferry ports located throughout the city. The fastest way to get to and from the airport is by rail. Airport Express takes less than half an hour to travel between Hong Kong International and the main Hong Kong rail station downtown.