DHL to use Hactl facilities for new express terminal
DHL Worldwide Express will open its US$100 million express cargo terminal (ECT) in the second quarter of next year without dedicated ramp access at the facility to handle aircraft.
The Asia-Pacific's leading express operator would unload aircraft, mostly the Air Hong Kong freighter fleet purchased last month with partner Cathay Pacific Airways, at Hongkong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl), the airport's biggest freight handler, DHL said.
The cargo will then be transferred to what is designed to be its self-handling express centre. It will use its space at Hactl but continue to use the dock to load and unload aircraft.
'It will take a few years for the cargo apron to be extended down the ECT,' said an Airport Authority (AA) source. 'In the interim, the cargo will be trucked to DHL's facility.
The source said the AA had no fixed schedule to extend the cargo apron again, adding that it had just been extended.
DHL will next month award the contract to build the ECT, which the AA said would 'exclusively handle express cargo', defined as 'door-to-door delivery'.
Hactl last year made some efficiency enhancements which brought SuperTerminal One's annual handling capacity to 3.5 million tonnes.
According to the company's franchise agreement, the AA is not allowed to introduce a third general cargo handling firm at the airport until Hactl reaches a certain capacity level, believed to be about 75 per cent.
It moved about 1.9 million tonnes last year, well short of the target which would allow the AA to introduce more competition.
Senior sources at Hactl said they were working under the assumption any non-express products DHL carried in the Air Hong Kong fleet would continue to be handled at a general cargo facility.
However, DHL's Asia-Pacific operations director Ross Allen said at the weekend that everything DHL moved in the Air Hong Kong fleet would technically be express.
'We won't be handling general cargo in the way Hactl and [Asia Airfreight Terminals] handles cargo,' he said 'The nature of the way we do business means we handle everything according to express timing.'
'All the freight we move in the Air Hong Kong fleet will eventually be handled at the express centre,' Mr Allen said.
'There's a difference in terms of how [the parties at the airport] define express. But we won't be in competition with Hactl or AAT for their services or customers.
'We're all saying the same thing, just in different ways,' Mr Allen said.
The introduction of the DHL facility and the loose way the AA defines 'express' has led to speculation Hactl may be offered an extended franchise deal in compensation for what it sees as prematurely introduced competition.
The AA source declined to comment on that possibility saying it was 'commercially sensitive information'.