July 20 2022  |  Jeremy's World

Jeremy's World: Preparing for passengers

By Jeremy Clark – PAX International Asia Correspondent

Hong Kong International Airport

We’re on the move again – so it seems. And from the global reports of chaos at many of the world’s leading airports, one wonders if they have forgotten how it works.

Huge queues at Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and even Heathrow where the UK Department for Transport and CAA is asking LHR to explain the seemingly arbitrary cap of 100,000 daily passengers. Considering LHR handled a daily average of 219,000 in 2019, the cap represents greater than a 50 percent cut at a time when LHR claims to have 70 percent of ground resources in place.

Here in Asia, no such issues. Numbers are still way down with less than 50 percent of 2019 levels but it is returning. Now the question is will investment keep returning and catch up?

Looking at new airport projects, Asia is way ahead of the rest with current committed investment of US$117 billion. Africa comes a very distant second and North America trails in last with a paltry US$3.4 billion. Well, the US has all the airports it needs you may think but many of Asia’s “new” projects are replacements like Manila.

Looking at the actual number of projects including upgrades to runways, terminals etc then again Asia tops with 228 with Europe at around 175. North America is third with a large amount of “make-do-and-mend” projects to existing infrastructure.

Asia certainly seems to be fixing the hole as the sun shines in anticipation of real growth in numbers through 2024/25. Currently Hong Kong is spending the most on upgrading infrastructure. Notably seven out of the top 10 investment projects are in China – continuing the trend pre-pandemic. Vietnam’s new Long Thanh International Airport and the New Manila International Airport come next and Sydney and Jakarta are also in the top six.

The chaos being seen in Europe currently is less infrastructure and more lack of resources. Something Asia suffers less from and as borders reopen allowing foreign workers more flexibility we don’t expect to see scenes like that here at any time in the future.

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