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Hong Kong airport checks in

OFFICIAL OPENING date for Hong Kong's new international airport at Chek Lap Kok is 6 July. Overnight, the airport will become one of the busiest in the world.

Pomp and ceremony will mark completion of one of the decade's major engineering projects, and one in which the geotechnical contribution has played arguably the leading role. During the peak of site preparation Chek Lap Kok was simultaneously the most intensive dredging operation ever undertaken in the world, and the world's fourth busiest open cast mine.

Airport Authority, head of engineering, Graham Plant says 'Its design and construction in a little over five years from a vast area of sea and two islands to a manmade platform and upon which the airport has been built dwarfs previous Hong Kong efforts and is perhaps one of the most significant engineering projects in recent times' he says.

'I acknowledge the enormous contribution made by designers, suppliers and contractors as well as staff of the Airport Authority itself in bringing together the many components and melding them into a world class airport.'

Progress was not always plain sailing. The airport was conceived to be open in time for the Hong Kong's handover to China in July last year, but lack of certainty over funding during the first few years of construction did not allow sufficient for- ward planning to make this achievable.

According to Plant: 'It was at these times that the collaborative efforts from all concerned paid off with all parties working together to achieve our desired goals.'

The 1,248ha platform on which the new airport has been built was created in just two and a half years, following a unique combination of dredging, mining and seawall operations. A book Site preparation for the new Hong Kong International Airport edited by GW Plant, CS Covil and RA Hughes, published this month by Thomas Telford, London, catalogues in 575 pages the design, construction and performance of the platform. Royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the Lighthouse Club Hong Kong Branch.

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