Shippers Today

Content provided by:












Email ThisRate ThisPrint Friendly

Dramatic year for commercial aviation

by Dr David J Pang

Dr David J Pang was appointed CEO of the Airport Authority Hong Kong on January 1, 2001. A businessman, engineer and academic, Dr Pang previously held senior global business management positions with multinational corporations and taught at universities in North America and Asia. Born in China, he lived as a child in Hong Kong before moving to Taiwan to complete his secondary and tertiary education. He obtained his BSc in Civil Engineering from National Cheng Kung University in 1966, his Masters of Engineering from University of Rhode
Island in 1969 and his Doctorate in Engineering from University of Kentucky in 1972. Previous to joining the AA, he was Corporate VP with the conglomerate E.I. DuPont, and Chairman, DuPont Greater China.

2001 has been a dramatic year for commercial aviation. Beset by a lingering economic downturn, the industry was suffering from falling passenger and cargo figures even before September 11. The outrages in New York and Washington on that now infamous date served to deepen the crisis, particularly in the key US economy.

The Airport Authority quickly took on board the security lessons and enhanced the already stringent safety measures at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). But while HKIA has weathered the storm better than most, it has suffered from the ensuing downturn in the aviation industry. Passenger numbers fell 9.3% to 2.38 million in November from a year earlier, while cargo dropped 5.4% to 203,000 tonnes.

But the Airport Authority remains forward-looking and we see opportunities in the challenges faced. Our optimism is reflected in the release on October 29 of a road map for the development of HKIA over the next two decades into Asia's premier aviation and logistics hub, while reinforcing its role as the gateway to the Chinese Mainland.

Moreover, the continuing health of China's economy, the expected consolidation of its commercial airline sector and its formal accession into the World Trade Organisation on December 11 are further grounds to be sanguine about the future.

As HKIA continues to play a key role in the economic growth of Hong Kong, we expect passenger and cargo traffic to rise on average by 5% and 6% annually over the coming years. The Master Plan 2020 will enable us to put in place the facilities and services necessary to cope with the airport's design capacity of 87 million passengers and 9 million tonnes of cargo. The HKIA handled 33.4 million passenger and 2.24 million tonnes of cargo in 2000.

The plan envisages boosting passenger capacity by expanding the current passenger terminal building and creating a separate new concourse in the airport's midfield area that will boost the number of aircraft parking stands from 75 to 134, with many designed to accommodate the bigger airlines expected in the future.

The importance of air cargo services, particularly the growing logistics and supply chain management industry, to the economy of Hong Kong and other manufacturing bases in the Pearly River Delta cannot be stressed enough. Our plans take this into consideration. Eight new air cargo stands were due to open at the end of 2001, while an on-airport logistics centre for processing time-critical air cargo is scheduled to come on line in 2003.

Moreover, our marine cargo terminal, which opened in March 2001, is playing an important role in reinforcing Hong Kong's position as the premier gateway to southern China. We also hope to attract more passengers from the area, by establishing ferry links between HKIA and cities in the Pearl River Delta in 2002.

Meanwhile, in view of the high growth rate of express cargo throughput at HKIA-double that of general cargo-plans are under way for private-sector construction over the next 3-4 years of a dedicated express cargo terminal.

These are the more important projects under our Master Plan 2020. While aviation business has been dampened in 2001, the AA remains optimistic about what lies ahead. With various plans in place to attract more passenger as well as cargo traffic, the AA can look forward with confidence to a prosperous future at the HKIA.