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Handling with care

Hong Kong is a hive of activity and home to Hactl, one of the world’s largest air freight terminals. Keith Mwanalushi speaks exclusively to the new Chief Executive Wilson Kwong while on a visit to London

Anyone that’s been to Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok would no doubt have seen the sheer size and splendour of the Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) SuperTerminal 1. It represents an investment of $1 billion and capable of handling 3.5 million tonnes of cargo per annum.


With just a few months into the job, the new Chief Executive Wilson Kwong was appointed in March 2018 and has a momentous task in steering the business forward.


“I’m the newest kid on the block you might say,” he states enthusiastically.


Kwong began his career at the airport 20 years ago and feels content to return. In the past two decades he has filled several roles. He started his career with Jardine Aviation Services, holding senior management positions in real estate development, property management and engineering services. Prior to joining Hactl, Wilson was Chief Executive of Jardine Engineering Corporation. Jardine, Matheson & Co Ltd is a majority shareholder in Hactl.


Kwong shows plenty admiration for his predecessor Mark Whitehead who retired in early March after eight years at the helm of the company but sadly passed away just three weeks after retirement. “It is a big loss to us. It has been a very well-run organisation under Mark, he did so much for the company steering it through the difficult times and laying a very firm foundation for the company going forward,” he says.


Kwong is pleased to lead what he believes is a very well-run organisation. “Mark’s passing was a shock and all of us were affected somehow but then
of course Hactl is a good company. Things are now beginning to pick up and I’m learning every day.”


Hactl is a cargo terminal operator but where it differs from some cargo handlers is that it is also very active on the ramp. It doesn’t tow freighter aircraft, but it does handle them right up to the aircraft side involving all physical handling activities. On the ramp, Hactl only handles freighter aircraft and does not handle any passenger aircraft – this is instead done on the other side of the airport by different companies.


SuperTerminal 1, as it’s referred to, was operational in 1998 and it’s known to be the single largest multi-level air cargo terminal in the world. There
are 3,500 container storage system positions, 10,000 box storage system positions, and specialised cargo handling facilities to cater for all cargo types, from temperature-controlled products to valuable goods to livestock.


“Air cargo is at an interesting time at the moment with lots of opportunities and I think now is the best time to be in the industry,” he reckons.


Last year Hong Kong International Airport collectively handled just over 5 million tonnes of cargo and air mail. “If you think about it, five million tonnes basically puts Hong Kong at the top spot in terms of air cargo footprint and that has been the case for eight consecutive years now,” indicates Kwong. >>


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