Cathay Pacific Services Limited CEO Jenny Lam is gearing up for the recovery.
“The first half of 2021 has been very challenging, but we have taken the opportunity to up our game at the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal, building for a stronger future and the post-pandemic recovery.
“The year started with good volumes in January and February, and while there is always a dip after Chinese New Year, the drop in volume was further intensified by the introduction of crew quarantine requirements in Hong Kong that led to additional reductions in capacity in both passenger and freighter operations. We recorded our lowest daily average tonnage in April.
“We took measures including the temporary closure of some truck docks and workstations, along with part of our Materials Handling System, to save resources and energy. We also trimmed down shift coverage and reduced the number of shifts. These measures were taken in collaboration with our business partners to ensure zero impact to customer service.
“However, vaccine shipments have remained a prime focus in terms of resource deployment and facility enhancement. Since February 2021 and up until the end of July, we have handled nearly 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for import to Hong Kong and Macao and for transit to other countries.
“Linked to this, we have been doing a lot to gear up our capabilities on temperature-sensitive cargo handling. We are constructing a dedicated pharma room with adjustable temperature zones that will be completed by May next year. We have also developed a mobile ‘cold box’ which includes GPS, wireless charging and temperature loggers which interface with our Warehouse Operating System for real-time monitoring. The cold box can also be entered into the Materials Handling System and this gives us the flexibility to scale up our terminal capacity. We have successfully applied for HK$1M of support from the government technology fund for cold box development.
“To ensure pharma shipments are handled at the highest standard, we have set up a pharma expert team of 60 staff able to provide customised solutions for airlines and forwarders. This has enabled us to significantly improve pharma handling. As an example, we have designed a golden route for vaccine shipments to ensure their safe release within the shortest time: our record for release of a vaccine shipment for import is just six minutes after the shipment arrived at the terminal.
“In other news, Hong Kong has successfully shifted to ICAO’s screening policy for air cargo security, which came into effect globally on 1 July. This achievement is a result of a collaborative effort between the entire air cargo industry and the authorities. We operate under a well-monitored regime that enables Hong Kong’s export cargo to be screened either at the cargo terminal or at off-airport, regulated facilities. That move coincided with an uptick in tonnage, which started in June. We remain positive on the business outlook for the second half of 2021. With global vaccination programmes in progress across the world, we are looking forward to an accelerated recovery of cargo capacity on passenger flights”.