President opens new international airport

President Jiang Zemin officially opened Hong Kong's new international airport at Chek Lap Kok on Thursday, July 2, during his two-day visit to the Special Administrative Region.

The colourful ceremony, held in the passenger terminal building and attended by about 3,000 guests, also marked the completion of the Airport Core Programme.

In his speech at the ceremony, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, described the airport as an amazing engineering project which consolidated Hong Kong's position as a transport hub as well as a major centre of trade, finance and tourism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vice Premier Qian Qichen, who was among the Mainland officials attending, and the Chairman of the Airport Authority, Mr Wong Po-yan, also gave speeches, and then President Jiang unveiled a ceremonial plaque.

President Jiang later left by a special flight - the first to depart from the new airport.

On Monday, July 6, the new airport began commercial operations after an overnight operation which saw the closure of the old airport at Kai Tak. The entire relocation was divided into five phases, lasting from May to August, with the crucial stage being the "overnight move" on Sunday, July 5.

The last passenger flight left Kai Tak just after midnight. At Chek Lap Kok, the first incoming flight landed at about 6.20 am and the first outgoing flight left shortly after 7 am.

The Director of Civil Aviation, Mr Richard Siegel, turned off the Kai Tak lights for the last time, and said: "Tonight, for the first time in nearly 70 years, Kai Tak is no longer a public transport airport...it's a very nostalgic moment."

Mr Siegel later hosted a reception to mark the closure of Kai Tak and among those present were the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, other senior officials, airline and airport staff, and media representatives.

Airport Railway goes into service

The Airport Railway - the second largest of the ACP projects - was officially opened on Sunday, June 21 and its Tung Chung Line began service the next day.

The Airport Express Line, which provides a speedy link between the urban areas and the new airport, began service on July 6 in parallel with operations at the airport. This line has only two stops -- Kowloon and Tsing Yi Island.

Serving the new town being developed in phases at Tung Chung, as a support community for the new airport, the Tung Chung Line provides a convenient mass transit link between there and the Central business district of Hong Kong Island.

There are four intermediate stations -- Kowloon, Tai Kok Tsui (Olympic Station), Lai King and Tsing Yi. The Lai King station has an interchange with the MTR Tsuen Wan Line.

The project took only 43 months to complete and involved 31 major contracts. The route covers 34 kilometres: 20 on newly reclaimed land, eight in tunnels including the tube under the harbour, and six on elevated structures.

Construction Milestones - 1998


  • Items ranging from a weather logbook to a Hong Kong SAR passport specimen were placed by heads of government departments in a time capsule at the new airport to mark the completion of the Government's facilities there.


  • MTRC celebrates the substantial completion of the Airport Railway's Hong Kong Station.

Construction Milestones - 1997


  • "Topping out" of the Kowloon Station, the largest of seven stations that will serve the Airport Railway.


  • Public housing blocks at Tung Chung New Town (Phase 1) ready to receive their first residents.
  • Arrival of the first works train at the Airport Railway's Hong Kong Station, marking the completion of a through track from Chek Lap Kok to Hong Kong Island.


  • The Lantau Link, the Tsing Yi Section of Route 3 and the North Lautau Expressway opened to traffic on May 22. The Airport Railway station on Tsing Yi Island is "topped out".


  • The Western Harbour Tunnel opened to traffic on April 30.
  • A spectacular fireworks display was staged on April 27 as part of events celebrating the official opening of the Lantau Link. This marks the completion of the 34-kilometre transport corridor to the new international airport being built at Chek Lap Kok.
  • The Secretary for Works, Mr H. S. Kwong, officiated at a ceremony on April 3 to mark the completion of the North Lantau Expressway.


  • The completion of the first of the 10 projects in the ACP was marked on February 19 when the West Kowloon Expressway was officially opened by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan.
    The Kwai Chung Viaduct section of Route 3, which is connected to the expressway, was opened at the same time.
  • A ceremony was held on February 28 to celebrate the structural completion of the Airport Railway Rambler Channel Bridge.
  • On February 20, a twin-engined Super King Air of the Government Flying Service made the first test landing by a fixed-wing aircraft on the new airport's first runway. The first landing was made in preparation for the start of calibration flights for the newly installed Instrument Landing System to be conducted by the Civil Aviation Department.
  • In readiness for the opening of the Westen Harbour Tunnel in April, the Sai Ying Pun section of the Route 7 network on Hong Kong Island was officially opened on February 25.


  • The Lai King Station of the Airport Railway was "topped out" becoming the third Airport railway station to be structually completed.

  • The first of the Airport Railway's trains arrived by ship from the manufacturers in Spain. The train will undergo extensive series of tests, and in due course enter service on the domestic line operating between Central and Tung Chung New Town.

Construction Milestones - 1996


  • "Topping out" of the second station for the Airport Railway- at Tung Chung New Town.


  • The Airport Authority awarded the first contract for the Passenger Terminal Building's northwest concourse extension associated with construction of the second runway at the new airport.


  • Lighting-up ceremony held to mark completion of the tunnel services contract for the Cheung Ching Tunnel, part of the Tsing Yi section of Route 3.

  • All 12 units of the Western Harbour Crossing are linked up.


  • "Topping out" of the first station for the Airport Railway-- at Tai Kok Tsui on the northern part of the West Kowloon Reclamation.

  • The station has been named Olympic Station in honour of Hong Kong's Olympic athletes.


  • Last of 954 large U-beams, weighing up to 160 tonnes, erected for the eight-lane Kwai Chung Viaduct section of Route 3.


  • Last of 10 units, weighing about 11,000 tonnes, immersed for the Airport Railway's tunnel under the harbour.


  • Ashphalting of the first runway at Chek Lap Kok.

  • Erection of steel deck units for the Tsing Ma and Kap Shui Mun bridges completed.

  • Track-laying for the Airport Railway begins.


  • First module raised for the distinctive wing-like roof of the new airport's passenger terminal building.

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