Hactl outpaces market with 16.6pc growth in first half

HONG Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) handled a total of 860,242 tonnes cargo in the first half of the year, representing a 16.6 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Hong Kong's sole independent cargo handler has now outperformed the local market every month since September 2016, according to a company statement. The total H1 tonnage represents growth in exports, imports, transshipments and mail/express.

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.

Hactl's chief executive, Mark Whitehead, said: "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," Mr Whitehead said.

Hactl expects the growth trend to continue for the rest of 2017, but at a slower pace. "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," Mr Whitehead added.

Overall, though, the chief executive 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."

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