An airport is a key infrastructure project in many cities. However, its structural effects on the distribution of employment and the commuting patterns are rarely examined at the city level. This paper aims to examine the impact of the relocation of the Hong Kong International Airport on the jobs-housing balance of the city under two scenarios. The first scenario shows the actual situation in 2002 after the airport was relocated to a suburban area. This scenario reflects the government’s effort to have co-ordinated urban development. The second scenario shows the situation with a hypothetical and relatively monocentric city structure. The airport was assumed to remain within the urban core area. Different indicators of minimum and excess commuting are compared. The results show that the airport relocation has enabled shorter commuting and, hence, lower commuting emissions. This analytical framework can be applied to other cities and for analysing other land use changes. Copyright © 2010 Urban Studies Journal Limited.