POINTS IN TIME

A salute to the storytellers of this airline’s history – and future. By PHIL HEARD

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A salute to the storytellers of this airline

歷史時刻

向記述國泰航空歷史的人致敬

向記述國泰歷史的人致敬,並展望將來。撰文: Phil Heard

FOR THE PAST three years, this page has looked back at the people, places and planes that have shaped Cathay Pacific over 72 years of flying from Hong Kong.

It owes a huge debt of gratitude to Gavin Young’s engaging history of Cathay Pacific, Beyond Lion Rock. The book charts the airline’s humble beginnings as a post-Second World War freight service started by two ex-military pilots to supply mainland China, and follows its progress to the 1980s, when the airline was established as one of the world’s best, forging long-haul routes with huge, modern aircraft. In these rollercoaster 40 years, the planes went from two ex-military Douglas DC-3 Dakotas to a fleet of Boeing 747s. It’s a brilliantly told story with the voices of those involved throughout.

But Young’s Cathay odyssey ended just as the regional airline was growing into a global carrier, in tandem with its regional base’s expansion into a global hub. The idea of relocating Hong Kong’s compact, congested inner- city airport at Kai Tak had long been mooted, and in July 1998, the new Hong Kong International Airport opened at Chek Lap Kok off Lantau Island.

Shuttering the airline’s operations late one night to start again a few hours later 30 kilometres away was a mammoth task. The priority was to ensure planes, people and the equipment needed to service them were in place for the morning’s first flight.

Unfortunately for those whose job it is to chronicle the airline’s history, such moves are a great opportunity for a clearout. There was less focus on retaining the magazines, meeting minutes and documents that would have been the ideal feedstock to update the airline’s history post- Beyond Lion Rock.

So the second debt of gratitude is to Matthew Edmondson and the team at the Swire Archive in Hong Kong, who are doing an astonishing job of rebuilding the airline’s past through generous contributions of mementos from current and former staff, trawling through eBay and even lucky finds in the city’s skips.

From next month, this column starts its own new chapter, looking behind the scenes at the people, processes and planes of the current and future Cathay Pacific. Watch this space.

國泰航空以香港為家,已有72年的歷史。過去三年,本欄回顧了在國泰發展的過程中留下深遠影響的人物、地方與飛機。

在此要特別感謝Gavin Young撰寫的國泰航空歷史專書《Beyond Lion Rock》,這本書資料豐富,讀來趣味盎然,為我們提供重要的參考。書中追溯國泰航空一路走來的歷程,從二戰後兩位前空軍機師為運送物資到中國內地而開設的小型空運公司開始,到1980年代躋身全球最佳航空公司的行列,以及採用巨型現代客機推出長途航線的光輝事跡,均一一記述。在這起伏跌宕的40年裡,公司擁有的飛機,由

兩架前軍用道格拉斯DC-3 Dakota,演變

成波音747機隊。作者以引人入勝的筆法鋪陳這段故事,更邀得相關人士現身說

法,讀來倍覺生動。

不過,當以服務亞洲地區為主的國泰將業務拓展至全球,而香港亦同時成為環球交

通樞紐之際, Gavin筆下的國泰史詩亦同時戛然而止。位於香港鬧市的啟德機場此時顯得擠逼狹小,不敷應用,搬遷的打算早已

醞釀多時;終於在1998年7月,全新的香港國際機場在大嶼山赤鱲角啟用。 整間航空公司在深夜暫停運作,再於數小時後在30公里以外的地方重新啟動服務,是極其艱鉅的任務,而最重要的是確保客機、人員和他們所需的器材都已準備就緒,令早上的首班航班得以如常運作。

本來這場大搬遷對於負責記錄國泰歷史的人而言是個大好機會,因為清理舊物可讓他們獲得大批極有參考價值的原始文獻,例如雜誌、會議紀錄和文件等,讓他們可以繼《Beyond Lion Rock》之後續撰寫公司的歷史,可惜這批資料卻由於搬遷期間未受重視而散佚。因此,我們亦同時需要向Matthew Edmondson和太古集團香港歷史檔案服務部表示感謝,他們對搜集和保存國泰的歷史耗費不少心血,不但收集現任和前任員工慷慨捐贈的相關物品,更在eBay拍賣網站上仔細搜尋,甚至在城中的垃圾箱裡碰運氣,希望覓得珍貴的資料文物,令國泰的歷史能以更完整的面貌呈現出來。由下個月起,本欄將揭開新一頁,集中介紹推動國泰航空現在和未來發展的人物、計劃和飛機,敬請密切留意。

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