Police arrest 7 over knife fight at construction site of Hong Kong airport’s third runway, hours after it first opened for take-off and landing drills

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Police have arrested seven people following a knife fight among workers at a construction site of Hong Kong airport’s third runway, just hours after it first opened for take-off and landing drills for planes.

A force spokesman said the brawl broke out at a pier at 5.46pm on Friday. Suspects who were injured in the fight were taken to North Lantau Hospital, Tuen Mun Hospital or Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment.

The workers were believed to have finished their shift and were waiting at the pier to leave the site. An initial investigation suggested some were arguing over queuing up, according to police.

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The spokesman said a caller told officers that the fight involved about 10 men and one of them was seen attacking others with a knife.

Seven men, aged between 20 and 53, were arrested on suspicion of fighting in a public place.

Video footage circulating online shows a group of men brawling at the pier, with a trail of blood stains along a pontoon while dozens of workers look on. One man’s arm appeared to be bleeding heavily, with three men trying to staunch the flow with tissues.

Earlier on Friday, a Government Flying Service plane became the first aircraft to land on the new airstrip at 8.24am as part of Hong Kong International Airport’s “operation familiarisation” – a series of drills to allow local and overseas members of the aviation community to become familiar with the tarmac, called the North Runway.

Three minutes later, Cathay Pacific cargo flight CX3251 from Shanghai Pudong International Airport touched down.

Friday’s drill ended with a total of 38 flight landings, an Airport Authority spokesman said.

“Gradually more flights will operate on the third runway for familiarisation,” he said, adding that details of the official opening would be announced later.

Statistics on the number of take-offs and landings at the other two runways were not available, the authority said.

The airport’s Centre Runway is temporarily closed for reconfiguration as part of its three-runway system project. Meanwhile, it will operate as a two-runway system with the new North Runway and the South Runway.

Hong Kong’s airport has opened its third runway for take-off and landing drills. Photo: SCMP
Hong Kong’s airport has opened its third runway for take-off and landing drills. Photo: SCMP

The third runway, which is part of a HK$141.5 billion (US$18.2 billion) airport expansion that began in 2016, is 3.8km long and 60 metres wide, and features about 14,000 ground lights to help guide pilots.

In addition to the new runway, the three-runway system project also includes an expansion of Terminal 2, development of a new concourse, an automated people mover and a baggage handling system. It is expected to be completed in 2024.

Hong Kong’s third runway ready for take off, but who will use it now?

Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang Kin-wing on Friday said the opening of the third runway could strengthen the city’s passenger and cargo flight capacity as well as maintain the city’s competitiveness as an aviation hub.

“The growth potential afforded by the commencement of the three-runway system at Hong Kong International Airport, together with the opportunities presented by the Greater Bay Area, will ensure that Cathay Pacific and our home hub will remain competitive for many years to come,” he said.

Former city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor noted earlier that the new landing field would play an important role in the city’s integration into the nation’s 14th five-year plan, and maintain its status as an international aviation hub.

Hong Kong’s new third runway to open to aircraft for familiarisation

Meanwhile, the authority released its 2021-22 annual report on Wednesday, showing that passenger traffic and flight movements remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels, at 1.4 million and 144,505, respectively. The figures represented a year-on-year increase of 70.4 per cent and 13.1 per cent, respectively.

Cargo throughput has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, up by 7.1 per cent to 4.9 million tonnes, making it the world’s busiest cargo airport in 2021.

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