Air cargo volumes outstrip capacity
The Airport Authority has increased its air cargo forecast for the next five years by 13 per cent after the relentless stream of high-value manufactured goods from factories in Guangdong last year revealed that recent projections were already too conservative.
The authority now says annual volumes are expected to reach 4.4 million tonnes by 2010, with express cargo the most dynamic growth area. Express cargo, such as that handled by United Parcel Service and DHL Express, is growing twice as fast as the overall market, up 16 per cent in the year to the end of last month.
According to the airport's commercial director, Hans Bakker, DHL has formally notified the authority of its intention to expand the US$100 million Central Asia Hub it opened just last summer. 'We are already looking at the next phase of expansion for a number of projects,' he said.
DHL did not respond to official queries yesterday, but an executive speaking on condition of anonymity said the firm had recently asked the authority for extra space for a non-express business sector it had hoped to house in the hub. 'We're full,' he said.
Mr Bakker said DHL had envisioned a three-phase expansion of the hub, but the second two phases would be rolled into one and launched 'as soon as possible'.
The demand for infrastructure for high-value, time-definite air cargo also saw the government last week award a $7.2 million study to Arup Hong Kong to examine the feasibility of the proposed Lantau Logistics Park near the airport.
The airport is already building five new aircraft stands for freighters, which will begin operating later this year. The flurry of airfreight-related activity comes just weeks after Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport started phase II of building its dedicated logistics facilities.