Air cargo rises on technology and retail trends
Air cargo's share of Hong Kong's external trade value has been rising for seven years and shows no signs of letting up, according to the Airport Authority.
While the volume of air cargo has remained steady at about 1 per cent of Hong Kong's throughput, its value represented 28.5 per cent of external trade in the first six months of this year, compared with 20.2 per cent in 1996.
Dora Kay, the Airport Authority's head of international marketing, said the trend would probably continue due to the rapid development of the technology sector and the present economic environment.
'We expect air-cargo throughput to increase at an average of 6 per cent per year over the next 20 years,' she said.
According to Ms Kay, more exporters are turning to air cargo from sea cargo because of fast-changing technology and fashion trends.
The sluggishness of the retail sector also favoured air cargo since most importers would rather place small orders at the last minute.
'People dare not place too large an order because of the present economic environment. They tend to place a small order at the last minute, prompting an increase in demand for air-cargo services,' she said.
The time-critical express-cargo sector has seen the biggest surge in demand. In the three years to last year, express-cargo volumes grew an average 17 per cent per year.
Even last year, when air-cargo throughput fell 7 per cent, express-cargo volumes increased 9 per cent.
Because the authority projects annual growth of 12 per cent in express-cargo volume during the next 20 years, it has proposed building a new express terminal.
'It is a dedicated facility for express cargo. We recognise the growth of express cargo will outpace the general air cargo,' Ms Kay said.
The International Air Cargo Association's biennial four-day Air Cargo Forum will be held in Hong Kong from September 17.
Ms Kay said the authority would exhibit jointly with the other four airports in the Pearl River Delta - Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Macau.
She said the airports would co-operate in marketing, emergency response, training and multimodal development.
'The Pearl River Delta is a big economic force. It plays an important role as it contributes 40 per cent of China's exports. We'd like to bring Pearl River Delta [airports] to the international arena together,' she said.
Ms Kay said Chek Lap Kok would work closely with its counterparts in the region by facilitating transshipment and expanding the market. It would also strengthen multimodal transport by sending more cargo to destinations in the region by truck or ferry. Already, cargo is shipped by barge to 21 ports in the delta from the airport.