Zhuhai sidebar: a snapshot of infrastructure development in the western PRD

This Zhuhai sidebar section supplements our feature considering the role of the recently opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge in supporting the diversification of cargo flows in China’s Pearl River Delta region. Read on to learn more about infrastructure development in the western PRD or click here to return to part I and part II of the feature.

In 2001 – the same year plans for the HZMB were drafted – the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) and the state-owned Zhuhai Municipal People’s Government Assets and Administration Committee formed the Zhuhai-Hong Kong Airport Management Co. Ltd. to manage and operate Zhuhai Jinwan Airport (ZUH).

ZUH currently has one runway and a cargo terminal with 2,000 square meters of warehouse space and 16,000 square meters of outdoor areas. Zhuhai Airport Cargo Terminal operator Peter Pang told Cargo Airport News that in 2018, the airport handled 46,000 tonnes of cargo, exceeding the current terminal’s capacity to process 45,000 tonnes. Most of the cargo moving through ZUH includes e-commerce, seafood, electronics, biopharmaceuticals and live domestic animals. The airport’s cargo terminal does not currently have any specialized logistics equipment or cool-chain storage, he said, but plans to advance its infrastructure.

“In 2019, we plan to set up customs warehouses. ZUH also offers special rates to attract air cargo from Guangzhou and Shenzhen, so we work closely with logistics companies from those regions,” Pang said. The airport also has plans to construct second 2,600-meter runway, as well as new facilities which will be built within the Zhuhai Aviation Industrial Park located beside ZUH that will include an electronic information platform and advanced freight processing capabilities. Zhuhai Aviation City Logistics Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Zhuhai Aviation City Development Group Co., Ltd., and Guangzhou Xuehang Logistics Co., Ltd, will manage construction of the Logistics Park, which will be built within the existing Zhuhai Aviation Industrial Park.

Plans for the park went into motion when the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved Zhuhai’s bid to receive private investment for the construction of its Zhuhai Airport Aviation Logistics Park last November. Construction of the Logistics Park will commence sometime later this year, according to a press release issued by Zhuhai city authorities. The logistics park is also expected to service cargo operations moving through Macao International Airport (MFM), which is also seeking to grow its business.

DHL Express opened its Zhuhai gateway in November 2018, to enhance its international logistics express delivery west of the Pearl River, and to better serve Chinese manufacturers’ growing demand for delivery services in Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Foshan in Guangdong province,” said Tony Khan, general manager at DHL Central Asia Hub (CAH). The integrator’s expansion into the western PRD will support its operations at its other Pearl River Delta locations in Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as its global CAH in Hong Kong that will be expanded. In 2017, DHL invested €335 million (HK$2.9 billion) in an expansion partnership with Airport Authority Hong Kong to increase the integrator’s throughput capacity at CAH to 125,000 pieces of shipments per hour compared to the current 75,000 by Q1 2022. The CAH facilities will also be equipped with a fully automated x-ray inspection system that will triple inspection speed. Khan said that “land availability is a major discussion topic during the initial state of the CAH expansion plan.”

Stakeholders in the region are no stranger to capacity challenges and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is currently building its third runway, a midfield development project and concourse of 20 parking stands in an effort to alleviate its capacity challenges, while preparing for continued growth in cargo demand.

For PRD stakeholders and airports collectively, increasing network connectivity within the PRD will bolster their global influence, while also ensuring they remain competitive against airports and cargo logistics providers who are also expanding infrastructure and operations, both in China and globally.