Big airport Hong Kong: $20 billion fills in sea, builds largest terminal -- but who is flying there?

July 11, 1998

WHEN the British were giving Hong Kong back to China, it has been said, they did not want the colony's treasury to go along. So they embarked on a large, speculative project -- the world's greatest (or nearly so) airport.

A year after the handover of Hong Kong to China, the airport has opened with hardly a hitch. In one day, everything moved from Kai Tak Airport, where planes had to elude the skyscrapers, to the $20 billion Chek Lap Kok Airport.

They filled in the sea. They built a bridge, highway, railroad and one of the world's biggest roofed spaces -- a 6-million-square-foot terminal. Never was there such faith in Beijing's pledge to maintain Hong Kong as a capitalist center.

The catch: It opened in the midst of the Asian economic meltdown and a reduction in Asian tourism.

Pub Date: 7/11/98

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