Airport Express
An Airport Express train near Sunny Bay, bound for Hong Kong
OwnerMTR Corporation
LocaleDistricts: Islands, Kwai Tsing, Yau Tsim Mong, Central & Western
Connecting lines
Former connections
Color on map     Teal (#00888A)
TypeAirport rail link
Operator(s)MTR Corporation
Depot(s)Siu Ho Wan
Rolling stockAdtranz–CAF EMU
Ridership34,600 daily average (October 2023)[1]
Opened6 July 1998; 25 years ago (1998-07-06)
Last extension20 December 2005; 18 years ago (2005-12-20)
Line length35.2 km (21.9 mi)[2]
Track gauge1,432 mm (4 ft 8+38 in)
Electrification1,500 V DC (Overhead line)
Operating speed135 km/h (84 mph)
SignallingAdvanced SelTrac CBTC (future)[3]
Train protection systemSACEM (to be replaced)
Route map

Hong Kong     
Nam Cheong
emergency platforms
Tsing Yi     
Sunny Bay
emergency platforms
Siu Ho Wan Depot
Airport Express
Traditional Chinese機場快綫
Simplified Chinese机场快线
Cantonese YaleGēichèuhng Faaisin
Literal meaningMachine Field Fast Line

The Airport Express (Chinese: 機場快綫) is one of the ten lines of the Hong Kong MTR system. It links the urban area with Hong Kong International Airport and the AsiaWorld–Expo exhibition and convention centre.

It is the only rail link to the airport. It runs parallel to the Tung Chung line, a rapid transit line, from Hong Kong station to just south of the channel between Lantau Island and Chek Lap Kok island, on which the airport was constructed. The line continues to the airport and terminates at AsiaWorld–Expo. The Tung Chung line terminates in the adjacent Tung Chung new town, with bus service to various areas at the airport, including the passenger terminals.

The journey from Hong Kong station to the airport takes 24 minutes. The line is coloured teal on MTR system maps.


In October 1989, the Hong Kong government decided to replace the overcrowded Kai Tak Airport, located in Kowloon, with a new airport to be constructed at Chek Lap Kok. The government invited the Mass Transit Railway Corporation to build an express line to the airport. The project began when the Chinese and British governments settled the financial and land agreements in November 1994.

The Lantau Airport Railway was developed as two separate MTR lines, the Tung Chung line and the Airport Express, with the two lines sharing tracks in some sections. It cost HK$35.1 billion.[4] The Airport Express began service on 6 July 1998, the opening date of the new Hong Kong International Airport. The line initially terminated at Airport station and the entire journey time was 23 minutes.[4]

With the opening of Sunny Bay station on the Tung Chung line in June 2005, the total journey time between the Airport and Hong Kong stations was increased to 24 minutes. With the opening of AsiaWorld–Expo, the line was extended to AsiaWorld–Expo station on 20 December 2005 and a journey on the entire route takes 28 minutes.


The Airport Express line runs from Hong Kong station in Central. It crosses beneath Victoria Harbour before stopping at Kowloon station, which was built on reclaimed land. The line then runs along the western side of the Kowloon peninsula, crosses over the Rambler Channel rail bridge to Tsing Yi, and stops at Tsing Yi station. The line continues on the Lantau Link and runs parallel to the North Lantau Highway to Airport station before terminating at AsiaWorld–Expo station.

The line shares tracks with the Tung Chung line only in the cross-harbour tunnel and from the Lantau Link through the split before reaching the airport island. The two lines have their own tracks and platforms at all stations.


In-Town Check-In counters at Kowloon station
Airport Express Shuttle Bus

The Airport Express offers more spacious and comfortable trains and stations than other MTR services.[5] On the trains, there are luggage racks next to each door, and each seat is equipped with in-seat loudspeakers for current news, advertisements and announcements shown on LCD televisions in front.

In-town check-in

The Airport Express provides In-Town Check-In at the Hong Kong station, where passengers on flights with Cathay Pacific can receive boarding passes and check in their baggage before heading to the airport bags-free. Each train has a special baggage container car and the checked baggage is scanned in bulk by a Mechanised Automatic Explosive Detection System.[5] In-town check in was offered for a greater variety of airlines at both Hong Kong and Kowloon stations, but this has been partially suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic travel disruptions.

Baggage trolleys, wide fare gates, and free porter service are available at all stations except AsiaWorld–Expo to assist passengers with baggage.

Shuttle bus service

The Airport Express Shuttle Bus was a free service provided exclusively for Airport Express passengers at Hong Kong or Kowloon stations, connecting them with major hotels in the Western District though Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island and the Yau Tsim Mong District and Hung Hom station in Kowloon. Before boarding, proof of eligibility had to be shown, including Airport Express train ticket (Single Journey, Same Day Return, Round Trip, Airport Express Travel Pass), Airline ticket / boarding pass, Airport Staff Octopus card, AsiaWorld–Expo entry pass or event ticket. This service was discontinued from 30 June 2020 due to low ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On-board WiFi and charging service

WiFi is available on all Airport Express cars, while charging service are assigned on first and last cars. USB and electric socket are provided for charging mobile electronics.[6]

Graphic identity

The Airport Express visual identity, which includes the logo, vehicle livery, signage, route maps and passenger information, was created in 1999 by Lloyd Northover, the British design consultancy founded by John Lloyd and Jim Northover.[7]

Fare structure

Inside the Airport Express with the Entry/Exit Path, along with the Baggage Compartments. The journey status can be seen above the compartment view.

Fares on the Airport Express are substantially higher than main line fares; a separate fare system is used for this line. Single trip or same-day return trips between the Hong Kong, Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations to Airport station cost HK$115, HK$105 and HK$70 respectively. Return tickets within 30 days cost HK$205, HK$185, and HK$120 respectively. Tickets are available at all MTR stations and the MTR online booking service.[8] Although no entry gates are provided at Airport station, passengers must still buy tickets from the ticket machines located in the Arrivals Hall, on platform 1 of the airport before boarding the train or at destination platforms.

Various discounts and rewards programmes are available, such as Group Ticket Discount, free taxi connections, Rewarding programme, Asia Miles programme, etc. Passengers may also buy discounted tickets from local travel agents. Discounts are available for groups of two to four people. Hong Kong residents can also obtain discount coupons, such as those sent from credit card companies. Discounted fares are available to airport staff to encourage commuting on the Airport Express.[9]

Same-day return discount will be given to Octopus card users who have stayed in AsiaWorld–Expo for at least one hour.[10] The discounted fare costs HK$72, HK$64, and HK$42 from Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Tsing Yi stations respectively, and includes a free connection with other MTR lines. A single trip from the Airport to AsiaWorld–Expo is HK$5.

Given their separate fare structure, Airport Express journeys require an out-of-system transfer if coming from or going to other MTR lines that call at the same or connected stations (e.g. coming from Central towards Hong Kong station or transferring between Airport Express and Tung Chung line trains). However, Airport Express passengers using Octopus cards can connect with all other MTR lines for free in conjunction with the Airport Express journey[11] within one hour of arrival at an Airport Express station.

In March 2010, the MTR began to replace the magnetic tickets used for single, group, and multiple journey tickets with new "smart tickets" that contain a memory chip. The new system was in full operation by 5 June 2010.[12]

Due to the high fares and small catchment areas of the Airport Express stations, some travellers may instead choose to either use the cheaper, local Tung Chung line combined with a bus route, or make their entire journey by bus. Patronage on the Airport Express is cannibalised by the Tung Chung line running mostly on the same track.[13]

Morning Express Service

The Morning Express Service is a special promotional service, allowing passengers from Tsing Yi and Kowloon stations to travel to Hong Kong station to get to work daily (excluding Sundays and public holidays) from 7am to 10am for HK$20.[14]

Operation and stations

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Airport Express services operated every 10 minutes from the start of service (05:54 from Airport and 05:50 from Hong Kong) and every 12 minutes from 23:28 (from Airport) and 00:00 (from Hong Kong) until the last service 00:48. Train service is currently reduced until further notice as passenger ridership has yet to completely recover. As of 5 November 2022, train services run every 15-20 minutes throughout the day. [15]

The Airport Express, along with other MTR metro lines, is monitored by the Operations Control Centre in Tsing Yi.[16]

Rolling stock

The Airport Express is served by 11 CAF-Stock trains built and assembled by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles in Spain while Adtranz contributed control and traction equipment. These trains were made up of seven cars until 2003. To cope with the extra traffic demand derived from the opening of AsiaWorld-Expo station, an additional car was added to each train to form a total of eight cars. If future demand increases, trains on the AEL are capable of running with ten cars. In service, the trains travel at a maximum speed of 135 km/h (84 mph).[17]

The train interiors saw their first refurbishment in 2008, after ten years in service. The grey seat covers were replaced with purple and green ones, and a new indigo carpet was installed.[18] The interior was updated yet again in 2020, and new seat covers featuring the blue and aquamarine AEL logos and a grey wave pattern will be paired with synthetic leather head rests.[19]


This is a list of the stations on the Airport Express line.


Livery Station Name Images Interchange;
Adjacent transportation
Opening District
English Chinese
Airport Express Line (AEL)
Hong Kong 香港 Tung Chung line
Tsuen Wan line (Central)
Island line (Central)
6 July 1998;
25 years ago
Central and Western
Kowloon 九龍 Tung Chung line
Tuen Ma line (Austin)
Hong Kong West Kowloon:
      MTR China Railway High-speed High-speed rail services to Mainland China
Yau Tsim Mong
Tsing Yi 青衣 Tung Chung line Kwai Tsing
Airport 機場 Airport interchange Hong Kong International Airport Islands
AsiaWorld–Expo 博覽館 20 December 2005;
18 years ago

Use in media

In late 1998, Leon Lai showed a music video of MTR's Airport Express line for the song "Happy 2000", which includes the interior of the A-Train.

In the film Shock Wave 2, a CAF-Train of the Airport Express was hijacked and planted with bombs, afterwards one of the terrorists drove it towards Hong Kong International Airport.

Design limitations

When British Hong Kong was planning to build the Airport Railway (Tung Chung line and Airport Express) in the 1990s, which was a few years before the handover to China, the Chinese government raised concerns about the effect of the project on the territory's fiscal reserves, which eventually forced the Hong Kong government to reduce the cost of the Airport Railway. The resulting changes made to the design imposed limitations on the level of service on the line.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Patronage Updates". Mass Transit Railway Corporation. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Business Overview" (PDF). July 2021. p. 5. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Alstom and Thales to supply advanced CBTC signalling system to Hong Kong's seven metro lines". RailwayPRO. 26 January 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b Davis, Chris (18 December 1997). "Rail "rocket" set to whisk passengers in comfort". South China Morning Post. p. 26.
  5. ^ a b Budge-Reid, Alastair J. (March 1999). "The Hong Kong Airport Railway" (PDF). Japan Railway & Transport Review (19): 36–43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Archive". Lloyd Northover. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Payment method and process". MTR Corporation. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Airport Staff Discount Fare". Airport Authority Hong Kong. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  10. ^ "MTR > Tickets and Fares". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  11. ^ "MTR > Privileges and Complimentary Services". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Information Update – July 2010". Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  13. ^ Yeung, Rikkie (2008). Moving Millions: The Commercial Success and Political Controversies of Hong Kong's Railways. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-962-209-963-0.
  14. ^ "Airport Express "Morning Express Service"". MTR Corporation. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  15. ^ "MTR > Schedule - Weekdays". Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  16. ^ "OCC Migration". MTR Corporation. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Hong Kong Airport Metro". CAF. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  18. ^ Ng, Yuk-hang (16 December 2008). "10-year-old Airport Express to get a facelift". South China Morning Post. p. 4.
  19. ^ "Upgrade in the works for Airport Express, but shuttle bus to be shut down". The Standard. 16 June 2020.
  20. ^ (in Chinese)MTR Service Update (26 November 2012). "為甚麼東涌綫總是班次疏落?". Retrieved 28 November 2012.