Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), has achieved a 16.6% increase in handled tonnage during the first half of 2017.
The total of 860,242 tonnes represents growth in exports, imports, transhipments and mail/express. Hactl has now outperformed the Hong Kong market every month since September 2016. At the same time, the number of charter flights handled by Hactl grew from 100 (January-May 2016) to 602 in the same period of 2017.
Hactl attributes the results to a number of factors, including continuing modal shift from sea to air, overflow from mainland Chinese airports, and the continuing strengthening of e-commerce traffic. Says Hactl chief executive, Mark Whitehead: “Deliberate reductions in ocean capacity, continued slow-steaming and port congestion due to mounting use of mega vessels are all playing a part in the shift from ocean to air. The volumes involved will be of little concern to the ocean business, but are a significant bonus to the airfreight industry.”
E-commerce remains a major driver of imports and exports to and from China via Hong Kong. Hactl’s value-added logistics arm, Hacis, continues to pursue opportunities to the benefit of Hactl’s carrier clients – such as its work with postal authorities to provide a viable alternative for outbound mail from China that contains e-commerce items. “We are now handling 1000 mail bags every day, and that is providing welcome extra revenue for our airline customers,” continues Whitehead.
The growth in e-commerce has also been instrumental in the dramatic rise in Hactl’s charter handling business; but this has also been driven by static fuel costs that have given older freighters a reprieve, as well as by Hactl’s decision to establish a dedicated charter team to facilitate freighter operators’ use of Hong Kong, through all-inclusive service.
Hactl expects the growth trend to continue for the rest of 2017, but at a slower pace, continues Whitehead: “Forwarders and airlines are planning and booking ahead for the final quarter, having been caught out in 2016 by high spot rates driven by restricted capacity.”
Overall, though, Whitehead remains bullish about longer-term trends: “While we cannot control overall traffic levels in the market, we can and do help our airline customers to be more competitive through the quality and scope of the services we provide. Our considerable and ongoing annual investments in IT, staff training, technology and pharma compliance will keep Hactl and its carrier community ahead of the game, and position us well to maximise all available business opportunities.”