This morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the world’s longest sea bridge to connect Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai, stretching across the Pearl River Delta. The opening culminated the US$15.3 billion project has been underway since December 2009.
The 34-mile span shortens the travel time between the two regions from 3.5 hours to just 75 minutes by road. Tomorrow morning, it will be open to the public.
“Many manufacturers have moved to the west bank of the Pearl River,” where Macao and Zhuhai are located, said Frankie Yick Chi-ming, member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for the transport sector. Before this bridge was built, their cargo had to be transported to Hong Kong via the Humen Bridge, which runs from Guangzhou to Dongguan, toward the north end of the delta. “That is a long detour and the congestion at the Humen Bridge can cost us three hours.”
Even though Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is the world’s largest cargo hub, handling more than 5 million tonnes of cargo last year, the airport has become increasingly crowded in recent years while it moves forward on the construction of its third runway. With a new shortcut connecting the metropolis to Macau, carriers could begin turning to Macau International Airport (MFM) as an alternative access-point to the densely populated area.
Qatar Airways’ new trans-Pacific 777 freighter service out of MFM, which launched last week, could be an indicator of the beginning of such a trend.