Emma Kelly reports on how Asia-Pacific airports are planning for growth.
The Asia-Pacific region has become the largest aviation market in the world, accounting for 26% of all global air travel, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). By 2014, IATA predicts this market share will grow to 30% when one billion passengers are expected to travel by air in the region.
Despite the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which have severely impacted air travel growth in that market, the Asia-Pacific region in general is continuing to lead traffic growth figures. According to traffic figures released by IATA at its annual general meeting in Singapore in June, international traffic in the region fell 0.6% in March and rose 5.1% in April. There are two stories in the Asia-Pacific area, says Director General Giovanni Bisignani, with Japanese international traffic still down by 20%, cutting 1% from global travel, and the Japanese domestic market down 31% in April. But the other Asia-Pacific story is China and India, he says. Due to tighter economic policies, domestic Chinese growth slowed to 10.8% in April, compared with 15% in April 2010, but India is continuing to boom with a 25.6% growth in domestic traffic for the month. Over the last five years, China’s domestic market has doubled in size to 240 million, while India’s domestic market has tripled to 45 million.
As a result, the region’s airports are planning, embarking on and in the middle of upgrades, expansion and development in order to cope with the boom. Airports in the region are not just focused on future traffic growth but are constantly looking at opportunities to improve their product and services and maintain their reputation for being among the world’s best airports. Once again, airports in the region dominated this year’s Airports Council International Airport Service Quality awards.
Seoul’s Incheon International Airport took out the top award for the best airport worldwide for the sixth successive year, with Singapore Changi Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport taking second, third, fourth and fifth places.
Considerable airport development activity is underway in China, with the number of airports in the country expected to increase from 192 in 2010 to around 244 by 2020. Such airport development is seen as necessary with passenger throughput in the country reaching 564.3 million last year at a 16.1% growth rate, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Much of this was domestic traffic – at 520 million passengers – but international traffic, which is still in its infancy, rose more than 20% to 44.7 million passengers.
China is expecting to invest CNY1.5 trillion (US$231bn) in its aviation industry over the next five years, with the CAAC investing CNY55 billion (US$8.5bn) in the construction of eleven airports in the country this year alone, according to the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA).
Five hub airports – Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xian – will be boosted to cater for growing transcontinental and international traffic.
Second airports are already on the cards for Beijing, Chengdu and Xiamen. Work on a second airport for Beijing was due to start last year at Daxing in the south of the city, but the project was delayed and will start this year. The new airport is said to be capable of handling 100 million passengers per annum. The city’s existing airport, Beijing Capital Airport, last year became the world’s second busiest airport, handling 73.9 million passengers, up 13%, and is expected to reach its 82 million capacity next year.
Airport replacement and upgrade work is already underway or planned for the near future in Dalian, Hefei, Kunming, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shantou, Xiamen and Yantai, while regional hubs are planned throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) released for public comment its 20-year development blueprint for Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) in June. Its Master Plan 2030 outlines two development options – either maintaining the existing two-runway system or build a third runway. Option one would see enhancements made to the terminal and apron facilities in order to increase the airport’s capacity to a maximum of 420,000 flight movements per year and annual passenger and cargo throughput of 74 million and six million tonnes respectively. However, the airport would most likely reach its maximum runway capacity around 2020.
Adding a third runway would allow the airport to meet forecast traffic demand up to and possibly beyond 2030. An additional terminal and airfield and apron facilities would be necessary, allowing the airport to handle a maximum of 620,000 flights per year and meet forecast annual passenger and cargo throughput of about 97 million and 8.9 million tonnes by 2030.
“With Asia Pacific, and in particular the mainland, increasingly driving global and regional economic growth, air traffic demand has been experiencing strong growth in the past decade. This trend is expected to continue, and Hong Kong is well positioned to capture the opportunities it presents. The question is how much of such opportunities HKIA is able to capture in the future,” says AAHK chairman Dr Marvin Cheung Kin-tung.
Launch of the master plan comes as the airport embarks on a HK$7 billion (US$899m) phase one development of the midfield area, located to the west of Terminal One and between the two runways. The work includes a new midfield concourse with 20 aircraft parking stands, a new cross-field taxiway and an extension of the automated people mover. The work is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015. See page 12 of this issue for more information about Hong Kong’s development.
India’s airports handled more than 120 million passengers in 2009/10, and thanks to strong gross domestic product growth, a young population and a growing middle class, the market is set to be one of the fastest growing over the next 20 years, according to CAPA. The country’s airport infrastructure has already seen considerable development over the last few years, with the Airports Authority of India investing US$265 million in modernisation projects alone last year. A further 14 Greenfield airports have been approved, while modernisation programmes are planned at airports including Guwahati, Mumbai and Tirupati.
In June, Bengaluru International Airport (formerly Bangalore) started construction work on the expansion of its Terminal One. Bengaluru International Airport opened in May 2008 and has experienced a growth rate of 18% per annum in its first three years of operations, making it, according to the airport’s management team, one of the fastest growing hubs in the country. Last year Bengaluru handled 11.7 million passengers and 224,000 metric tons of cargo – up 24.6% on the previous year.
The expanded terminal, which is due for completion in 18 months, will double the existing terminal area of 753,500 sq ft (70,000m2) and will boost annual terminal capacity to over 17 million passengers, with the flexibility to increase to 20 million when required.
In February, the new international terminal was opened at Thiruvananthapuram Airport in southern India. The 346,609 sq ft (32,200m2) terminal has a peak hour passenger handling capacity of 1,600.
A modernised and expanded Chennai Airport is expected to be completed by the end of this year, including a new domestic terminal and expanded international terminal, allowing the airport to handle 40 aircraft movements an hour compared with 30 currently and an annual passenger throughput of 27.6 million by 2020.
Australia has a raft of development and expansion programmes under way. Last year saw the completion of an upgrade of the international terminal at Sydney Airport in response to growing international traffic at the airport – 10.6 million in 2009 and expected to reach 20 million by 2020 and 30 million by 2029. Key projects at the airport in the near term are pier extensions at Terminal Two, baggage expansion and increased aircraft parking capacity, with ground transport upgrades currently under way. Longer term development of the airport will be impacted by an ongoing study by the Federal and New South Wales governments into short and long term aviation infrastructure requirements for the Sydney region, including options for a second airport. The report is scheduled to be published before the end of this year.
Melbourne Airport, meanwhile, has undergone a AUS$330 million (US$345m) expansion of its international terminal in what has been the largest upgrade to the airport since it was built in the 1960s, and in Queensland, Brisbane Airport completed earlier this year an upgrade and expansion of its domestic terminal in the first stage of an overall upgrade of the whole domestic precinct. “With over 14 million passengers flying through the domestic terminal last year, in comparison to the 740,000 passengers flying through in 1988 when the terminal was first built, an expansion and upgrade has been much anticipated,” says Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Julieanne Alroe. Domestic traffic at the airport is expected to reach 33 million by 2029. The next stage of development will see new car parks, an upgrade to the road network and an elevated walkway over the roads, scheduled for completion in early 2012.
Next year, work will start on Brisbane’s AUS$1 billion (US$1.04bn) New Parallel Runway project, with the new runway – 1.25 miles (2km) west of the current main runway – expected to be operational by 2020 to enable the airport to handle 35 million-plus passengers forecast by 2023.
On the other side of the country, Perth Airport has launched a AUS$500 million (US$523m) redevelopment to take place over the next three years. It is a necessity at the airport which has experienced a passenger growth rate of 7.5% for financial year 2009/2010 to a record 10.4 million passenger movements. The redevelopment will involve a phased transition to a consolidated airport precinct over the next decade.
The first stage, which started earlier this year, includes expansion of the international terminal, including making it Airbus A380 capable; adding a shared domestic/international pier; a new terminal for the growing Western Australian regional market; expanded aircraft parking and taxiways; and road and car park upgrades. By this September, the airport is aiming to complete a refurbishment of the international terminal and upgrades to domestic terminal three. Meanwhile, as this edition went to press in July, the airport was expecting to award a contract for the development of the new Terminal WA which will primarily cater for the resource sector’s fly-in fly-out market. Over a million passengers are expected to use the terminal in its first year of operations in 2013.
The first stage of the AUS$350 million (US$366m) redevelopment of Canberra Airport is complete, and work is underway on the Western Concourse terminal extension, scheduled for completion at the end of 2012.
The next Australian airport to be expanded and upgraded will be Darwin, to allow it to cater for four million passengers by 2030. Work will start on the AUS$40 million (US$41.8m) terminal expansion project in the first half of 2012.
Despite a sharp drop in traffic in Japan, some airports in the country are looking at further development. In late June, for example, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced approval for the expansion of Haneda Airport’s international terminal. The work is scheduled for completion in March 2014 when the terminal will have an annual passenger capacity of 19.5 million.
Malaysia Airports, which manages and operates 39 airports in the country, is in the middle of a number of major upgrade and expansion projects. Last year the company started work on the expansion of Penang International Airport (PIA), which is due to be completed next June. The RM250 million (US$82m) project will result in a near doubling of the terminal area from 296,017 sq ft (27,500m2) to 559,741 sq ft (52,000m2), enabling passenger throughput to rise from today’s 3.5 million to five million per annum and provide space for extra aircraft parking bays, immigration, customs and security screening facilities, plus extra baggage reclaim carousels and more car parking spaces. PIA handled 3.8 million passengers last year.
Upon completion next April, a new low-cost terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), will replace a temporary facility which has been in operation since 2006. The new terminal will cater for the growing low-cost carriers (LCC) operating at the airport, primarily local operator AirAsia, and will be the largest purpose-built dedicated terminal for LCCs in the world, according to the airport authority. Low-fare travel accounts for around 16% of total air travel in the Asia-Pacific region and 43% in Malaysia.
The 2,604,951 sq ft (242,000m2) terminal, located 1.25 miles (2km) from the main terminal, will initially be built to handle 30 million passengers. The LCC terminal is part of the airport authority’s vision of making KLIA the “next generation hub”, with a passenger throughput of over 60 million expected by 2014.
Elsewhere in Malaysia, the delayed expansion of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is scheduled for completion this December. The project includes a runway extension, a new terminal and expanded aircraft parking, all designed to boost annual capacity to nine million.
Singapore’s Changi International Airport has undergone consistent expansion and upgrades since its first passenger terminal, Terminal One, was opened in 1981. A major upgrade of the terminal is currently in progress, due for completion next year. “The works, at an estimated cost of about S$500 million (US$423m), will rejuvenate the grand old dame and enhance the passenger experience,” says the airport. The facelift includes refurbishing the interior design, improving the passenger flow, upgrading the exterior façade, departure kerbside, check-in hall, departure transit lounge and arrival hall.
South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (IIA) has launched its KRW 4 trillion (US$3.7bn) third phase expansion project which is aimed at establishing the northeast Asian hub airport, capable of handling 62 million passengers a year (from 44 million today) and increasing cargo processing capability from 4.5 million tons to 5.8 million by 2017. In 2010, the airport handled 210,000 flights, 33 million passengers, 2.7 million tons of cargo and 5.2 million transfer passengers.
The latest expansion, scheduled for completion in 2015, will include a second passenger terminal, expansion of the cargo terminal and aircraft aprons, an airport logistics park and improved traffic facilities.
Over in Thailand, the Airports of Thailand company (AOT) has launched a project to renovate Phuket International Airport. The airport experienced a 13.94% increase in passenger traffic for the year ended March 2011, with the number of flights rising 18.91%. AOT is also considering adding a new domestic terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport to relieve congestion.
A number of new airports are on the cards for the region. In Indonesia, for example, local airport operator PT Angkasa Pura plans to build a new airport in Yogyakarta to replace the existing airport of Adisucipto Airport which has reached its 3.5 million passenger capacity. The new airport will have a capacity of six million passengers when it opens in 2013.
And in Vietnam, the government has approved the development of Long Thanh International Airport in the southern province of Dong Nai. The airport will be developed in three stages, starting in 2015 with the construction of a terminal capable of handling 25 million passengers a year, a cargo terminal and two parallel runways. In the second phase, a third runway will be added and passenger throughput capacity will increase to 50 million. A third phase, planned for after 2030 includes a fourth runway and four terminals capable of handling 100 million passengers a year.
Long Thanh will replace the existing airport of Tan Son Nhat, with the government aiming for the new development to become the country’s biggest international airport and a regional hub.
A number of airport authorities in the region are using their expertise in overseas projects. Changi Airport International, for example, is working with the Brunei Economic Development Board on the upgrade and development of Brunei International Airport and in eastern India on the Durgapur Airport Greenfield airport city project.
Meanwhile, Incheon International Airport has a memorandum of understanding with Indonesian airport operator PT Angkasa Pura 1, which could eventually result in the partners working together on the modernisation of Indonesian airports, including Bali. In addition, Malaysia Airports is now part of a consortium with GMR that won the contract to modernise, expand and operate Male International Airport in the Maldives.
Emma Kelly reports on how Asia-Pacific airports are planning for growth.