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Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Aviation sector set for takeoff

Overseas flights and passengers will come back to the SAR following the relaxation of travel restrictions, says the general manager of Hong Kong Business Aviation Center, Madonna Fung Wai-yee.
With the adoption of the "0+3" arrangement, air traffic at the center has doubled, said Fung at the start of the center's HK$400 million expansion yesterday.

She expects the trend to continue as the city hosts international events, including next month's investment summit and Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

The center has also seen an increasing number of inquiries and bookings from airlines, she said.

Fung said the center catered to 9,000 flights and 40,000 travelers in 2019, with the pandemic having had a huge impact on its service as many flights left the Hong Kong base due to the SAR's travel restrictions and quarantine measures.

But she is confident that flights and passengers will return to Hong Kong after the city resumed its connection with the world.

The Business Aviation Center is a facility for private jets that covers an area of 16,000 square meters.

After the expansion, which is expected to be completed by 2025, the center's area will increase by 50 percent to more than 24,000 square meters, while the area of a business passenger terminal will be expanded by four times to 4,800 square meters with the construction of a new building.

The center's director of administration and business development, Sheree Cheung, expects the capacity of flights being handled at the center to double from 9,000 in 2019 to around 20,000 a year after the expansion.

In the past, it would take travelers hours to finish PCR testing upon arrival as they had to undergo the tests at the airport's passenger terminal. But the center has set up testing facilities now and it will take only 10 minutes for arrivals to complete the testing process, Cheung said.

She believes Hong Kong remains competitive because it has convenient air routes to the mainland and other Asian cities.

The airport's third runway and advanced facilities can attract more tourists, she said.

Although the number of flights landing in Hong Kong has been increasing rapidly recently, it is still far less than the pre-pandemic level, Cheung said.

Airport Authority chairman Jack So Chak-kwong called for a special passage for Greater Bay Area travelers.

"We can introduce a Greater Bay Area passage where travelers no longer have to go through dual immigration procedures at both Hong Kong and mainland border checkpoints, which will be beneficial for development," he said.
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