HONG KONG (AP) — The Hong Kong government gave final approval Tuesday for a third runway at the Asian financial center's airport, aiming to meet surging growth in passengers and air cargo.

Officials said the project will begin next year and cost 141.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($18.2 billion).

About 650 hectares (1,600 acres) of land will be reclaimed from the sea for the runway and a new passenger building. Construction is expected to be completed by 2023.

Hong Kong International Airport expects to reach maximum capacity under its current layout by 2022 at the latest.

Strong growth in China has been a key driver of Hong Kong airport traffic. Most of the visitors to the specially administered Chinese region come from mainland China, which is one of the fastest growing air travel markets. For the rest of the world, Hong Kong is also a gateway to China.

Last year, the airport handled 63.4 million passengers and 4.4 million metric tons of cargo, both records.

The airport predicts that the third runway will allow it to handle 102 million passengers and 8.9 million tons of freight a year by 2030.

Across Asia, airport operators are scrambling to build new terminals or expand existing ones to keep up with growth in air travel.