Sunday, July 5, 1998 Published at 22:50 GMT 23:50 UK
Hong Kong's flying start
Equipment had to be transported through the centre of Kowloon
The airport opened after a massive seven hour operation to transfer equipment from the old airport.
The first commercial plane, Cathay Pacific flight CX889 from New York, touched down on Monday at around 0620 local time (2220 gmt).
On Sunday, thousands of people had watched the last incoming planes as they made their customary dramatic descent to the old Kai Tak airport, swooping over rooftops to land on a runway jutting into Hong Kong harbour.
The plane left at midnight local time (1600G) and was piloted by Captain Kim Sharman, a 21-year veteran who was retiring after the flight.
Hong Kong-based Dragon Air's Flight 841 from Chongqing, China, was the last to land some 15 minutes earlier.
The authorities had a window of just seven hours to transfer the loads. Although many pieces of equipment were moved over gradually in recent months, essential items could not be taken until Kai Tak had seen its last landings and take-offs.
Large sections of Hong Kong were closed to normal traffic.
Retired British Army soldiers with logistics expertise have been recruited to oversee the loading of tonnes of airport equipment onto lorries and barges.
Chek Lap Kok was officially opened by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who flew in on Thursday, and used by US President Bill Clinton last week on the last leg of his tour of China.
The BBC Hong Kong correspondent says a replacement for Kai Tak was much needed. The old airport reached capacity some time ago, with no room for expansion.
A driverless shuttle train carries passengers under the central concourse and a computerised system switches off lights and power in areas of the terminal when they are not being used.
The new airport cost £4bn to build - another £8bn was needed to construct a giant bridge connecting it to the rest of Hong Kong.
But the figures may have to be recalculated in the wake of Asia's financial crisis.
Hong Kong has been thrown into recession by events in South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan and tourist arrivals are down by a quarter.
Although our correspondent says Kai Tak's dramatic landing will be sadly missed by aviation enthusiasts, the 300,000 who live directly under what was its flightpath will be happy.
Another group celebrating is the International Federation of Airline Pilots, who recently rated Kai Tak as "critically deficient" and said pilots had numerous near-miss anecdotes.