January 2010 | Air-to-rail links have been gaining ground across Europe in the past decades. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France, and KLM have agreements with train operators to provide ‘intermodal’ journeys, which combine a flight and train travel, often in one ticket. In this way, the train effectively works as a feeder service for the airline to feed passenger to its hub airport.
On a similar note, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has just opened the SkyPier, a new cross-boundary ferry terminal that provides high-speed ferry services for transit passengers to and from the Pearl River Delta, home to around 60 million people. The SkyPier ferry service is for transit passengers only. Currently, high-speed ferries make an average of 85 trips everyday, shuttling around 5,000 passengers between HKIA and eight ports in the Pearl River Delta and Macao, including Zhongshan, Zhuhai Jiuzhou, Dongguan Humen, Guangzhou Nansha, Shenzhen Shekou and Shenzhen Fuyong as well as Macao’s Taipa and Maritime Ferry Terminal. A temporary SkyPier opened in 2003 and served almost 10 million passengers. The new 16,500-sqm permanent SkyPier is eight times the size of the temporary facility, and designed with a maximum capacity for 8 million annual passengers.
Travelers arriving at HKIA and that use the SkyPier are not required to go through immigration and customs formalities at HKIA, cutting travel time and making their air-to-sea and sea-to-air transfers more hassle-free. Arriving passengers have to check in seperately at the Skypier terminal though.
Outbound passengers from the Pearl River delta to overseas destinations can check-in their luggage and obtain their boarding passes at 4 major SkyPier ports in the delta. This so-called ‘upstream check-in service’ sends their baggage from mainland China ports to the final destination, and is available for passengers travelling on all major Chinese airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Thai Airways, JAL and British Airways. Passengers transiting via HKIA’s SkyPier are also exempt from paying the Hong Kong Airport departure tax of HK$120 (EUR11.50, USD15.50).