Shenzhen authorities have taken an unprecedented step in agreeing to license offices for 20 Hong Kong air-freight forwarding agents at the Shenzhen Huangtian airport before the end of July, according to sources. They said Huangtian airport, one of three mainland airports which had been designated officially to handle air cargo, was trying to woo forwarding agents before the airport at Chek Lap Kok opened. The other two cargo airports in the mainland are Tianjin and Shanghai. 'The Hong Kong forwarding agents will be allowed to issue uniform invoices, house airway bills [belonging to the forwarder] and master airway bills [belonging to the airlines] at the Shenzhen airport,' a source said. Shenzhen authorities gave assurances to the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding Agents (Haffa) last month that the licensing formalities would receive the blessing of the Shenzhen municipal authorities. Huangtian airport's air-cargo business is expected to receive a strong boost when South Korea's Asiana airlines begins three weekly services between Shenzhen and Seoul from next month. Business will be strengthened further when Canadian charter airline Winport, based in Winnipeg, begins operations from September and United States-based Federal Express starts four services a week from October. Sources said Haffa officials had turned to Shenzhen after the Hong Kong Government rejected the association's proposal to retain Kai Tak airport's Terminal 2 to assist small and medium-sized freight forwarders after the move to Chek Lap Kok. Haffa also had taken its proposal for a logistics park to Shenzhen authorities, who were keen on the idea. The Hong Kong Government had turned a deaf ear to the proposal, sources said. Haffa's proposal is that the park should be a base for logistics companies providing value-added services, reducing inventory and manpower and increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The association said the logistics park, which would be situated close to Shenzhen airport, would encourage the freight-forwarding industry, and Haffa members in particular, to use the facility for movement of goods to and from the Pearl River Delta area. Haffa met Shenzhen airport officials last month to discuss, among other things, the airport's ambitious plans to internationalise its services. The 11-member association delegation, led by chairman Anthony Lau Siu-wing, included Haffa's China trade sub-committee members Edmond Chau, Nelson Lee and Peter Tan. 'The meeting with the Shenzhen officials went very well,' Mr Lau said. Further details about the visit would be announced later, he said. Last year, mainland air-freight traffic - including mail - totalled 1.15 million tonnes and is expected to rise to 1.3 million tonnes this year. Air-cargo numbers have grown at 25 per cent annually for the past five years.