Worth its weight in gold
Founded in 1971, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl) started terminal operation in 1976 to meet demand for a consolidated air cargo service in Hong Kong’s manufacturing economy.
Over the next two decades, Hactl built two air cargo terminals at Kai Tak International Airport to cater for the rapid growth of air cargo within the region. By 1997, the annual throughput reached 1.7 million tons.
In 1998, Hactl moved to SuperTerminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport in Chek Lap Kok. Representing an investment of $1 billion surveillance audit and accreditation covers the provisions of handling, logistics and storage services for pharmaceuticals.
He added that the focus of the industry is always shifting and one of the big things at the moment is the rapidly developing sector of e-commerce, so Hactl is actively looking at opportunities to handle more and more e-commerce products.
Products generated from e-commerce are different from the general air cargo, they come in as a lot of small packages, and Hactl also needs to modify its system to make sure it can handle this efficiently.
As consumers become wealthier, flying in perishables is also a noticeable trend in Hong Kong, as more and more food is ordered in by air, according to Whitehead.
“The demand for fresh sea food, live lobsters, live salmon and fresh vegetables is rising. We have to constantly maintain and upgrade our information technology (IT) system, which is why we have 120 IT and capable of handling 3.5 million tons of cargo per year, SuperTerminal 1 was designed and built to do one thing: manage cargo in the smartest possible way.
In May 2010, Swire Pacific Ltd and its aviation associate Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd announced an agreement to sell their entire interests, 19.998 percent and 10 percent respectively, in Hactl and Hactl Investment Holdings Ltd (HIHL).
The interests in Hactl and HIHL were purchased by existing shareholders, namely Jardine Matheson & Co Ltd, The Wharf (Holdings) Ltd, Mosgen Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd), Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd and China National specialists in the company.” Hactl is capable of handling all kinds of cargo, whether dangerous goods or live animals or perishables, he asserted.
The past few months have seen Hactl launch several new products, one of which is a smart phone application for efficient goods movement, Whitehead said. Truck drivers who need to pick up cargo when they arrive at the airport can download the app, where they can be told which dock they need to go to.
As for getting the better of local competitors, Whitehead believes Hactl has several advantages, not least of which is its huge body of experience in the air cargo industry.
“We have been doing this for a very long time, next year will be our 40th anniversary,” he pointed out.
The company also has a policy of employing all its staff directly, not through any human resources firm or third-party contractors, unlike what its competitors tend to do, according to Whitehead.
“We always believe that is the correct thing to do. All of our 2,500 workers were employed by Aviation Corp (Group) Ltd. Currently, Jardine Matheson is Hactl’s largest shareholder, with a stake of 41.67 percent, while Hutchison Port Holdings and The Wharf (Holdings) each holds 20.83 percent, and the remaining 16.67 percent belongs to the China National Aviation Corp.
For 2014, Hactl’s total tonnage handled was up 8.7 percent. Exports increased by 6.7 percent, imports were up 10.3 percent while transshipments were up 28.6 percent and mail/express traffic grew 3.1 percent.
Hactl Chief Executive Mark Whitehead said: “This is a very pleasing result, with good increases in all areas of our business.
“Transshipments once again showed exceptional growth, fuelled both by increased road feeder activity by our subsidiary Hacis (Hong Kong Air Cargo Industry Services Ltd), and the continuing underlying development of us directly, which means that they can join our company as a young man and have a career path right through.” Whitehead believes this is also a competitive edge for Hactl.
Whitehead noted that the air cargo industry in Hong Kong has a significant edge over rivals in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, thanks to the SAR’s great connectivity.
“Our advantage is that we have more numbers of flights in and out the terminal, which is crucial in the business,” said Whitehead.
“For example if you have some cargo you want to fly to Los Angeles, for whatever reason you miss a flight, (in Hong Kong) you will still have another five to go, it is all about connectivity and Hong Kong is the best for that.”
This is also why the city needs a third runway, because Hong Kong needs to have the ability to handle the majority of world airlines, he said.
Whitehead said that he came to Hong Kong in 1983 as a lawyer, then joined Jardine Matheson & Co Ltd