AA plans further HK$2 bln spending on airport Terminal 1 revamp

January 11, 2019 13:36
Chapman Fong, general manager of the airport’s Terminal 1 facility, poses for a picture from behind a model depicting the renovated terminal. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong authorities unveiled plans for additional spending to improve the facilities at the city's international airport, aiming to add to the passenger convenience amid an expected rise in traffic.

On Thursday, the Airport Authority (AA) said it will earmark a further HK$2 billion for renovation and upgrade of infrastructure at Terminal 1, which was first opened in 1998.

Efforts will be directed at making the terminal more "smart" and bring added comfort to travelers.

The improvement works will include installing systems to support face recognition technology at some boarding gates, redesigning seats in waiting areas for departure, and renovating all restrooms at the terminal, airport officials said.

The HK$2 billion spending comes on top of the HK$7 billion already committed toward the terminal expansion, which involves, among other things, constructing a Sky Bridge to connect the terminal and the North Satellite Concourse to cope with an expected rise in passenger numbers, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

According to Chapman Fong Sui-man, general manager of Terminal 1, four biometric gates that support face recognition will be installed at some boarding gates starting from the beginning of 2020, before such facilities are rolled out at all boarding gates in a year later.

Along with the new systems, there will still be a traditional checking counter at the gates, with staff assisting passengers in boarding.

The advanced screening will help in shortening the queuing times for boarding for passengers, Fong said, adding that the AA decided to go for it as face recognition technology has become mature.

Such facial recognition systems have gradually been in use at the e-Security Gates since September last year, with the identity check process taking only about 20 seconds to complete.

Among other upgrade work, newly designed seats, including five new types -- with one of them even coming with a desk on which passengers can do their work -- will be added.

Twelve zones featuring three themes will also be created across the passenger concourse, providing entertainment facilities, family corners and resting areas for transit passengers, RTHK cited airport officials as saying.

In another initiative, all the 108 public restrooms at the terminal will be renovated. The previous renovation of the restrooms took place 10 years ago. Each toilet compartment in men’s and women’s restrooms will be equipped with a hook and a facility for users to put their mobile phones.

Overall, the renovation project, which is costing a total of HK$9 billion, is aimed at giving a brand new look to the entire airport.

Visitors shouldn't feel that one side of the airport is brand new while the other is old, AA said.

The whole project is expected to be completed in late 2021 before the airport's third runway is put into operation in 2024.

In other announcements, the AA is planning to renumber some of the gates at Terminal 1 to tie in with the completion of the Sky Bridge next year.

The first phase, starting from March 28, will involve boarding gates and parking stands 15 to 22, which will be renumbered to numbers five to 12.

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Airport authorities have laid out plans to spend an extra HK$2 billion on renovation of Terminal 1, which will include face recognition technology systems at boarding gates. Photo: Reuters