Playing a pivotal role in the bustling cargo operations at Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) has been part of its rise to become the world’s busiest air cargo hub. As Hong Kong’s largest independent handler, Hactl handles over 100 airlines, including 50+ freighter operators, making it mission-critical to the airport’s overall operations.
Hactl offers a comprehensive service, encompassing every strand of the cargo handling operation.
“We provide a one-stop shop service that includes terminal handling (receiving and hand-out of cargo, build up and breakdown of cargo, and security screening) ramp operations (loading and unloading freighters) and documentation,” Wilson Kwong, Chief Executive of Hactl, said.
Its subsidiary, Hong Kong Air Cargo Industry Services Limited (Hacis), further provides value-added logistics and e-commerce fulfilment services.
Efficiency has been the driving force behind Hactl ‘s operations since its inception in 1976. The company’s commitment to innovation and performance excellence has significantly contributed to Hong Kong’s rise through its productivity.
“With such a large share of Hong Kong’s total cargo business, we are mission-critical to the airport’s overall operations,” Kwong explained. It is no exaggeration to say that Hactl has played a massive part in Hong Kong’s rise to become the world’s top air cargo hub, and its reputation for world-leading productivity and efficiency.
The range of services provided by Hactl covers all types of air cargo, from live animals and outsize cargo to temperature-sensitive commodities like pharmaceuticals. This versatility enables Hactl to cater to diverse industry needs and support the growth and development of the airfreight market at Hong Kong International Airport.
“It has always been our goal to make our airline customers as competitive as possible, and to open up new revenue opportunities for them, through the quality and scope of our services; their success is our success,” Kwong stated.
Hong Kong International Airport itself boasts unique advantages that position it as a prominent airfreight hub. Its strategic central location in the Asian market, proximity to China, bi-lingual workforce, modern Customs regime, impressive automated handling resources, unrestricted flights, and global connectivity with a wide choice of carriers and frequencies make it an attractive choice for airfreight operations.
“Our aim is to handle customer vehicles as quickly as possible, and to shrink the time between receiving exports and flying them, or unloading imports from aircraft and handling them out,” Kwong said.
Ensuring smooth and secure movement of cargo through the airport is a top priority for Hactl. “Our aim is to handle customer vehicles as quickly as possible, and to shrink the time between receiving exports and flying them, or unloading imports from aircraft and handling them out,” Kwong said.
The company deploys extensive security measures, including high-tech developments: “Our latest innovations are augmenting physical security patrols with security robots that record video and audio, and using professionally trained detection dogs to sniff out any concealed lithium batteries in cargo,” Kwong highlighted.
Supported by stakeholders
Despite the impressive growth and efficiency, Hactl faces challenges typical of Hong Kong’s employment market, particularly in recruitment. To address this, the company actively focuses on staff retention through ongoing training, internal promotions, and talent nurturing programmes.
Collaboration with other stakeholders, including airlines and customs authorities, is essential for Hactl to streamline operations and embrace change and improvement continually. Frequent meetings with stakeholders facilitate beneficial partnerships and initiatives: “We have regular meetings with all stakeholders and maintain a receptive stance to change and improvement,” Kwong said.
Returning to growth
Hactl anticipates a challenging 2023 in line with the global situation.
“The Hong Kong market is currently tracking in line with the soft global airfreight market, caused by consumer inflation and geo-political problems including trade tensions and the Ukraine situation. 2023 is likely to remain tough, but we expect to see growth return in 2024,” Kwong stated.
To enhance cargo handling efficiency and reduce processing times, Hactl continuously implements various measures and technologies. Recent initiatives include the opening of the Integrated Hactl Control Centre (iHCC), digitisation of ramp processes, and upgrades to its logistics control software and apps to facilitate smoother operations.
“Although Hactl still has plentiful capacity for immediate growth within its existing facility, in the longer term we have the option of redeveloping some areas of our site to achieve even higher throughput within the same footprint,” he continued.
As the airfreight market evolves, Hactl stays attuned to different demands and requirements. The company listens to customers and industry trends, leading to the establishment of specialised facilities such as the Hacis e-commerce Fulfilment Centre (HEFC) and the Animal Limo for handling perishables and live animals, respectively.
“We listen to our customers and their needs, and we maintain regular dialogue with the industry at large to identify all new opportunities and trends,” Kwong said.
Environmental sustainability is a key focus for Hactl, aligning with Hong Kong International Airport’s target of net-zero by 2050. Through its Sustainability Strategy Framework, Hactl addresses environmental, social, and community considerations in its operations. The Green Terminal programme and various eco-friendly initiatives have earned the company accolades for its commitment to sustainable practices.
“We even use recycled materials such as discarded wooden pallets to produce our business gifts, and furniture and art installations in our recently refurbished offices earned us a Platinum rating, the highest level under the coveted BEAM Plus Interiors Version 1.0,” he added.