Over 30 personnel were arrested this Thursday over bribery charges involved in the construction of Hong Kong Airport’s third runway (the 3RS Project). The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong stated on Friday that the suspects involve senior executives from the Airport Authority Hong Kong to staff members of various contractors. Luxury watches, gold coins, and cash totalling of HKD 3.8million (approx. USD 500,000) were found among the officers’ homes.

Airport Executives Arrested

On Friday 19, the ICAC published a statement that they are pressing charges against Ricky Lee Wing Fai, 47, Principal Manager of the Airport Authority, and Ng Kai On, 65, director of Carol Engineering Limited, at this stage. Among the 30 arrested, 4 are Airport Authority staff with the remaining suspects as staff members of the main contractors, subcontractors, and other persons.

Runway HKIA renamed
The original northern runway was renamed the centre runway at the end of 2021 © Airport Authority Hong Kong

Operation Codename “Blizzard”

The investigation codenamed “Blizzard” was initiated when staff members of the Airport Authority launched a complaint against their executives for abusing their power in the 3RS Project.

Cash, Luxury Watches and Entertainment

The ICAC spokesperson suggested that the investigation concerned the awarding of works and material supplies contracts, as well as administrative and financial matters. An amount of HKD 900,000 was found as a bribe to secure supply contracts of sand as the landfill material.

Four Airport Authority employees had reportedly received multiple “entertainments” offered by contractors in nightclubs, restaurants, and other venues. However, the ICAC had not mentioned how the suspected bribery would affect the quality of the third runway in Hong Kong airport and stated that they would work in close liaison with the Airport Authority to continue the investigation.

Indo-Pacific Dolphins HKIA pollution runway
The Indo-Pacific Dolphins are one of the prime victims of the pollution brought by the construction of the Third Runway System|© Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation

The Three Runway System Project (3RS)

The 3RS Project was part of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) Master Plan 2030 initiated back in 2011 as an ongoing development operation to keep HKIA’s competitive edge as Asia’s aviation hub.

The construction of Hong Kong’s third runway began in 2016 despite major backlash concerning the pollution aroused by various environmental organisations. Earlier this year, the construction of the third runway was completed and the original northern runway was renamed the centre runway.

By 2024, it is expected that the Three-Runway System will be completed with automated passenger transport and baggage handling system. The final stage of the expansion is the T2 concourse and terminal 2 expansion which will complement the third runway to complete the system.

HKIA Hong Kong Airport 3RS Runway
The HKIA Master Plan 2030 consists of the 3RS as an integral part of the airport’s development © Airport Authority Hong Kong

As the construction of the 3RS is still underway, the Airport Authority has not spoken about whether the remaining items in the master plan would be affected.

Do you think the 3RS will help HKIA become the hub of Asia’s aviation hub? Let us know below!

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