Passengers flying out of Hong Kong are being warned to pay attention to the biggest change to boarding gate numbers in more than two decades, in a revamp tied to bigger improvements and infrastructure investment.
As part of an increased HK$9 billion (US$1.1 billion) spend by the operator of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), a new passenger footbridge is under construction and will connect some of the concourses by 2020, which the Airport Authority said meant the boarding gates would need to be renumbered.
The authority said it was working with airlines to ensure the changes would be fully communicated to passengers.
“Overall, the whole gate transformation revamp will be concluded by 2021,” said Chapman Fong Shui-man, general manager of Terminal 1. “Together, with all the other enhancements, the Terminal 1 annexe building, the skybridge and the toilet revamp will cost HK$9 billion.”
He said the extra spend, a rise of HK$2 billion on top of the HK$7 billion investment announced last year, would be funded by the authority, with no fees or charges passed on to passengers.
The first of two phased changes will take effect from March 28 in the main terminal at the boarding areas closest to the main security clearance area. In this change, gates 15-21 will change to gates 5-12, for example.
Gates 501 to 510 in the north satellite concourse, which can only be reached by bus, will be connected to the rest of Terminal 1. Those gates will change to gates 13-22.
The skybridge, which will be high enough to allow the Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger plane – to pass underneath, is expected to open by the second quarter of 2020, and means more passengers can ditch getting the bus to the plane.
Travellers run the risk of missing their flight or getting lost if they are too used to the present numbering layout, which has not changed since the airport opened in 1998.
A spokeswoman said notices and new signs would be put up, while extra staff would be on hand to guide passengers.
“It also depends on the traveller themselves to leave enough time to be clear on where they are actually going,” the spokeswoman said.
As part of the extra spending, a wider revamp is planned across the boarding gate areas in Terminal 1, based on themes, which will radically alter the look and feel of much of the airport, and how passengers get to their plane.
The biggest change will be the introduction of biometric boarding gates, so passengers will board with their ticket and the use of facial recognition, instead of staff checking passports.
The technology is slowly being introduced across major airports in London and Singapore, and is designed to cut staff costs, while making boarding quicker and more organised.
In addition, new seating for travellers to work, rest or relax will be rolled out progressively.
HKIA was on course to serve more than 74 million passengers in 2018, a record for a single year. The airport is also set to carry about 5.6 million tonnes of freight, stretching its lead as the busiest airport for cargo worldwide.
The airport is spending HK$141.5 billion to build a third runway, and a new passenger concourse, almost doubling in size. The project should be finished by the end of 2024, increasing the number of passengers by 30 million.
This article Attention passengers, your gate has changed: travellers urged to take extra care as improvement work continues at Hong Kong International Airport first appeared on South China Morning Post