CPSL continues expansion into 2015

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Cathay Pacific Services (CPSL), the operator of Cathay Pacific Airways’ cargo facility has seen its customer base grow as it comes to the end of its second full year of operations.

CPSL operates Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal (CPCT), which cost 5.9 billion Hong Kong dollars to build ($761 million) and became fully operational in October 2013.

In its first full year of operation in 2014, CPSL started handling cargo for AirAsia, Air Hong Kong, Royal Brunei Airlines and Thai AirAsia, in addition to Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. It started handling EVA Air Cargo services from January and AirAsia Zest from May. From July 2015, CPSL has also been providing ramp services for FedEx.

CPSL chief executive officer, Kelvin Ko (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “With these new business opportunities and the organic growth from our existing customers, we look forward to seeing an increase in the tonnage throughput at CPCT in 2015.”

Like many companies in the Far East, CPSL noticed a significant upturn at the beginning of the year to the US before momentum slowed. Ko says: “The industry experienced a marked increase in airfreight volumes in the first quarter of 2015, benefitting from the additional air traffic as a result of the West Coast shipping disputes in the United States. However, the momentum has slowed down since the beginning of the second quarter.”

Asia Pacific has seen a slowdown during the middle of the year, but Ko tells ACW he is optimistic about the rest of the year, as the peak season is starting.

“The operating environment for the aviation industry as a whole remains challenging. As we enter the traditional peak season, we do expect to see stronger demand and tonnage throughput at our terminal.”

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is the busiest cargo airport in the world, having handled 4.4 million tonnes on a rolling 12 month basis up to October. The airport is nearing capacity and competition from China is increasing.

Ko comments: “In recent years, we see robust infrastructure development from neighbouring airports in China and in other parts of Asia. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is facing runway capacity constraints, which will limit an airline’s ability to serve additional and secure preferred takeoff and landing timing slots.”

Ko says there is strong competition from established hubs in the region, such as Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea, and Singapore’s Changi Airport while Chinese airports are rapidly expanding.

To cope with this, HKIA is to construct a third runway, which should be completed by 2023. Ko supports the expansion, telling ACW: “A third runway is certainly an essential investment to protect connectivity and flight frequency.”

“We believe the construction of the third runway is crucial to sustaining Hong Kong’s position as the premier international aviation hub and maintaining the city’s long term economic growth and development.”