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TAKING FLIGHT

TAKING FLIGHT: After a ceremonial opening on 2 July by China's President Jiang Zemin, with only passing mention to the contributions of Governors Chris Patten and Lord Wilson, Hong Kong's brand new £12bn international airport at Chek Lap Kok opened to the public on Monday. The move from 73 year old Kai Tak airport has been claimed to be the biggest peacetime logistical operation ever. Carried out in five phases, the most critical started around 6pm on Sunday at Kai Tak and was considered complete around 6am on Monday at Chek Lap Kok. 'Over 80% of the equipment had already been moved since relocation began two months ago,' a government spokesman said. The overnight land-sea-air convoy included 1,200 trucks, 30 aircraft and 14 barges. A northern route and southern route separated land convoys to minimise traffic jam delays and major roads were closed after 10pm on Sunday to make way for the majority of the trucks. Bulky equipment and specialised airport vehicles were transported by barge. Among all the farewells to the old airport and celebrations for the new airport, some thought must go to the 49 deaths during the 10 airport core programme projects. Fourteen of these were at Chek Lap Kok.

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