Date
24 November 2017
Albert Lai (inset) is urging the government to scrap the third airport runway project, saying its potential economic benefits are outweighed by the social and environmental costs. Photo: HKEJ
Albert Lai (inset) is urging the government to scrap the third airport runway project, saying its potential economic benefits are outweighed by the social and environmental costs. Photo: HKEJ

New runway could cost HK$564 bln in economic losses

Hong Kong faces as much as HK$564.4 billion (US$72.36 billion) in net economic losses from a third airport runway in the event the economy deteriorates, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Monday.

A new runway will bring HK$150 billion in net economic benefits from 2012 to 2061 after accounting for its social and environmental costs, the report said, citing Albert Lai, director of environmental group Conservancy Association.   

However, a severe downturn could slash that figure to HK$104 billion, with a corresponding increase in social and environmental costs, Lai said.

The government estimates that a new runway will produce HK$542 billion for the economy in the 50 years to 2061, citing independent think tanks and professional organizations.

But Lai said the figure does not include the cost to people and the environment which he estimates at HK$391.8 billion under normal circumstances and up to HK$668.8 billion under a worst-case scenario. 

Lai is urging the government to scrap the project.

Law Cheung-kwok, director of the Aviation Policy and Research Center of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, defended the government’s projections.

He said the numbers are realistic given an additional economic production of HK$470,000 for each extra flight and an additional 150,000 flights a year with a new runway.

Meanwhile, Airport Authority chief executive Fred Lam said he is willing to put the project under legislative oversight amid growing criticism of the government’s decision to build the runway without going through the Legislative Council’s budget approval process.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 23. 

Translation by Vey Wong

[Chinese version 中文版]

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