Monday, May 27, 2024
Welcome to the world’s busiest airfreight hub

Welcome to the world’s busiest airfreight hub

“Hong Kong is back” – That’s the message from Cathay Cargo as they prepare to welcome attendees to the World Cargo Symposium to its hub.

“It’s the perfect time for WCS to come to Hong Kong,” said Tom Owen, Director of Cargo at Cathay Cargo, the host airline for the 2024 edition of the air transport cargo event. “Hong Kong has had a rough ride over the last four years, from social unrest to Covid impacting its air cargo logistics status. It hasn’t been able to showcase its extraordinary logistical abilities to the world.”

“WCS will bring a lot of industry leaders back to Hong Kong who haven’t been here since Covid. Hopefully, they’ll be impressed by the optimism for the future with all the new developments, investments and infrastructure projects.

“Hong Kong is well and truly back as a global logistics leader for air cargo. That’s the big takeaway we expect people to get from seeing the activities on the ground. Hong Kong is vibrant, progressive and ready to compete as the preeminent air logistical hub.”

Mark Watts, Chief Operating Officer at Cathay Cargo Terminal, echoed: “It’s a great opportunity to have key industry players in Hong Kong to witness for themselves the extraordinary progress being made here.”

Digital ecosystem

One of the primary focuses at Cathay Cargo revolves around the digitisation of the cargo environment, something the business has focused on for several years now. A noteworthy example is its utilisation of the virtual airway bill as a standard for recording air cargo transactions, setting a precedent for how they engage with freight forwarders.

Cathay Cargo has implemented various initiatives to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, and they plan to unveil more opportunities and collaborations with customers at WCS, solidifying their role in helping to transform the industry.

“Digitalisation of our cargo ecosystem is vital for the future,” Owen said. “Hong Kong is a great example of a place trying to lead and move things forward. We are amongst the leaders piloting these digital processes, and we have more announcements to unveil in due course.”

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Terminal sustainability

With Hong Kong remaining on top of the rankings as the world’s busiest airfreight hub, Watts believes that Cathay can also showcase the region’s leadership in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

The airline and its cargo terminal have set an ambitious target of achieving zero emissions by 2050, with short-term and medium-term goals guiding them along the way, showing their profound commitment to the cause.

“Our cargo terminal is only ten years young and was built with sustainability in mind. For example, it was built with solar panels installed on available roof space and a cargo warehouse operating system backed up by documented daily processes that place sustainability at the centre of our operations,” Watts explained. “Our new Pharma Handling Centre was built with 420 high-thermal insulation panels and non-ozone depleting HFC refrigerants, all steps to be energy efficient.

“It’s not just good for cargo; maintaining it at the right temperature also reduces our carbon footprint.”

Cathay Cargo Terminal was the first facility in Hong Kong to sign up for the IATA Environmental Assessment Programme (IEnvA) in October 2023. The programme provides globally recognised environmental and sustainability standards for the aviation industry.

Efforts to reduce waste are also a key focus. “We recycle all plastic cargo covers from import shipments broken down at our terminal, and that plastic comes back to us recycled in the new sheets we use to cover export shipments. Traditionally, we’ve used 30-40% recycled content, but from 1 March 2024, we will use sheets with 50% recycled content.”

Addressing the issue of plastic in the industry is a significant challenge for cargo industry operators worldwide. “We’d like to see that become the minimum standard for plastic cargo sheets globally,” Watts added.

Picture of James Graham

James Graham

James Graham is an award-winning transport media journalist with a long background in the commercial freight sector, including commercial aviation and the aviation supply chain. He was the initial Air Cargo Week journalist and retuned later for a stint as editor. He continues his association as editor of the monthly supplements. He has reported for the newspaper from global locations as well as the UK.


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