Hong Kong (CNN) — Though bigger and swankier airports continue to open around the globe every year, the 20-year-old Hong Kong International Airport is still regarded as one of the best — and most profitable — aviation facilities in the world.
Replacing the unforgettable and slightly frightening Kai Tak Airport in 1998, Hong Kong’s main air hub has set the standard of what it means to be a modern, world-class travel facility.
But the best might be yet to come.
The Airport Authority of Hong Kong is now implementing an ambitious plan to enhance the 20-year-old facility that’s expected to cost more than HK$140 billion (US$18 billion).
This includes an addition to Terminal 1, dubbed T1 Annex, that will offer more check-in counters, luggage conveyor belts and an open-air rooftop garden.
The T1 Annex, due for completion in 2019, will also include a 200-meter-tall sky bridge — high enough for A380s to pass under — featuring an observatory deck and retail offerings.
A new 12-story multi-purpose building is also now being developed at Hong Kong Airport that will include an Aviation Academy, recreational facilities for all airport staff, 1,400 new car parking slots and a new nursery for working parents at the airport.
And then there’s the 25-hectare Skycity, an integrated destination with dining, retail and entertainment offerings as well as new hotels and offices.
The project is expected to be completed in various phases between 2019 to 2027. Instead of being an extension of the airport, developers hope Skycity will become a destination of its own.
“The Skycity is what we have been talking about lately — turning the concept of a city airport to an airport city,” says CK Ng, executive director of Hong Kong International Airport’s airport operations.