Hactl’s strategic focus keeps it flying high

‘Living life on the edge’, could well be a suitable tag line of Hong Kong’s largest ground handler, were it not for the inherent negative connotation that implies living day-today – for if there is one thing Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd (Hactl) does and does well, it thinks strategically well into the future. Donald Urquhart has the story.

Hactl’s strategic focus keeps it flying high

Without a doubt, living life on the edge of China’s mainland has its advantages, but it is not without its with challenges too. Growing capabilities of China’s logistics infrastructure and airports, shifting production locations, growing costs in Hong Kong and delays in getting a third runway at HKIA all stoke the eternal question of Hong Kong’s future as a logistics hub. And of course, losing your biggest customer and with it some 1.3 million tonnes of cargo handling business leaves a bruise – from a punch Hactl saw coming – for some time.

Having come through the exodus of Cathay Pacific Cargo volumes from Hactl to Cathay’s own state-of-the-art facility next door without a significant degree of trauma – another local carrier, Hong Kong Airlines – with a decent, but obviously smaller scale than Cathay’s, stepped in as a new customer and that has softened the blow along with growth from Hactl’s existing customers.

Because of Hactl’s intense strategic focus, it also has other options – no opportunities more correctly – to help build up its business again. And to be fair, considering the current air cargo environment, its not like it’s struggling.

The latest figures show Hong Kong’s largest independent handler ended 2014 with its strongest quarter of the year, handling 491,476 tonnes (up 4.9 per cent on the same period of 2013) for a total tonnage handled of 1,814,726 tonnes, up an impressive 8.7 per cent year-on-year.