Former Hong Kong police chief aiming high with top job at carrier
Tang King-shing says he will increase safety and security as Hong Kong Airlines goes for growth
A former chief of police has landed a new job as a senior executive at Hong Kong Airlines, which is poised to expand and take on the two biggest local carriers Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair.
Tang King-shing will play a key role in shaping the company’s planned foray into North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and will use his 34 years of police experience to boost safety and security at the airline.
In his first interview since joining the airline last month as vice-chairman and executive director, Tang vowed to give the public more choice of flights, signalling an attempt to break the grip of Cathay Pacific Group at Hong Kong International Airport.
In his first top job since stepping down as commissioner of police almost six years ago, he will oversee corporate governance, including legal affairs, security and safety, internal audits, and customer relations.
Tang, who quit in 2011 after four years as head of police, is no stranger to the aviation industry, notching up two stints as airport police chief, first as deputy district commander at Kai Tak airport and later returning as district commander.
He will play a key role in steering the airline through its latest phase of international and regional expansion.
“There’s a natural progression from a purely regional airline, and gradually expanding to international and long-haul flights,” Tang said. “By doing that we are giving Hong Kong people, if not people from the Pearl River Delta and the region, more choice of the type of airline they would like to travel on.”
Hong Kong Airlines last week launched direct flights to Auckland, bringing more competition on the route jointly operated by Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand. Last year, the company began serving the Gold Coast and Cairns in Australia.
From next year, the airline will take delivery of the new Airbus A350 which is also flown by Cathay Pacific. The aircraft is expected to compete for passengers in the North American and European markets, with Vancouver among the cities touted for expansion.
Hong Kong’s third biggest airline by market share, which currently operates 29 passenger aircraft and five cargo planes, is expecting to almost double its passenger fleet to 50 by 2018.
Under its ambitious expansion plans, the airline is also forecasting to boost passenger numbers sevenfold by 2018, up from about one million in 2010.
Tang is expected to overhaul the approach to aviation safety on the ground and in the skies, particularly regarding rules laid down by the Civil Aviation Department, the government, and global bodies such as the International Air Transport Association and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“Stipulated requirements tend to be reactive, but we want to be proactive. We want to see what more we can do, not just what we are required to do from a safety point of view,” Tang said,
However he would not be drawn on specific plans or measures he would be working towards.
“Safety is paramount as an airline: to ensure safety of our aircraft, of our passengers, of our pilots and crew members.”
Tang, who is also a local delegate to China’s top political advisory body, vowed to help young people to secure jobs in the local aviation industry which contributes almost 5 per cent to the city’s economic output.