Industry needs to up its game on sustainability, says HACTL chief

Industry needs to up its game on sustainability, says HACTL chief
Wilson Kwong, chief executive of Hactl

As the second quarter of the year approaches, uncertainty looms over the industry again, says the boss of one of the world’s largest handlers. Hong Kong International Airport’s ground handling agent Hactl, started off 2022 a little down on January 2021’s figures, but chief executive Wilson Kwong, says it is important to be realistic.

Last year “ended significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels; it would not be realistic to expect such growth to continue forever,” he says.

“The big question is what effect the current Ukraine situation may have on global economies, trade and supply chains throughout this year; current indications suggest volumes may decrease but rates and revenues may increase.”

With uncertainty looming, Hactl has been future-proofing its operations, focusing on making itself sustainable.

“The industry as a whole needs to up its game on sustainability: not just in East Asia, and not just in the handling sector,” says Kwong.

“Aviation as a whole receives a lot of criticism for its impact on the environment, but there are some areas (such as how we power our aircraft) where improvements are going to take a long time and a lot of technological advances.

“Meanwhile, on the ground, we do have the opportunity to play our part in improvements. Recent developments in ramp equipment and road vehicles are encouraging, but there is still a long way to go and the speed of progress needs to increase.

“I hope that what Hactl has achieved to date, as documented in our newly-released Sustainability Report, will open the eyes of others about what is possible at a handling level.”

Has it been difficult to transform operations to be more environmentally friendly? Kwong says: “The difficulty is only in the initial change of mind-set – to decisively put climate and environment above profit in one’s priorities.

“That’s often easier said than done, and I sympathise with the slowness of some parties in the industry whose good intentions may have been held back by years of poor returns.

“On the matter of cost, yes, our many measures have been costly – but we often find that what makes sense from a sustainability aspect also makes sound business sense.”