The Airport Authority on Monday said travellers will have to keep on paying the construction fee for the third runway project until at least 2033 – three years longer than originally planned.
Officials explained at a Legco panel meeting that the Covid-19 pandemic has crushed passenger numbers, leading to a drop in income for the construction fees.
Each departing or transit passenger is currently charged up to HK$180 as one of three sources of funding for the HK$141 billion project.
Officials said while they expect construction to stay within budget for the time being, they have to raise more funds from the market to bridge the funding gap as the pandemic has led to a drop in its operating surplus.
Airport officials say the third runway will be opened later this year, while the current north runway will be closed for reconfiguration and become the centre runway when the entire project is completed in 2024.
Tourism sector legislator Yiu Pak-leung asked how authorities plan to maintain Hong Kong's status as an aviation hub, and when the Airport Authority plans to drop the airport construction fee.
Julian Lee, the Airport Authority's finance executive director, said the charge will probably stay until 2033 or 2034 when all the debts related to the project are paid up.
The AA's airport operations executive director, Vivian Cheung, said plans are in place to attract passengers back when the border reopens.
"To sustain our hub status, four elements are very important: government policy; local economy; local-based airlines' status and airport readiness. All four... we have prepared for. Once the passengers come back, we have lots of activities to ensure we can capture the market," Cheung said.