Cargolux, the Luxembourg-based carrier, will today become the first airline to test the incoming freight-processing facilities at Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals' (Hactl) SuperTerminal 1 complex since systems collapsed at the airport's opening on July 6. If the trial is successful it will mark a milestone in Hactl's four-stage recovery plan to restart full cargo import and export operations at SuperTerminal 1 by the end of this month. William Wu, Cargolux Hong Kong manager, said the airline was acting as a guinea pig to test computer and other systems in the massive $7.8 billion air-cargo complex. He said it would be the first time since July's catastrophic shutdown that incoming cargo had arrived at Chek Lap Kok, been transported into SuperTerminal 1 and broken down into individual consignments. Each will be logged into Hactl's computer system and stored ready for collection. Up to now inbound cargo has been unloaded at Chek Lap Kok and transported to Hactl's Terminal 2 at Kai Tak, where it has been split into individual consignments. 'If Hactl is doing the test then it shows they have confidence in the systems. So far the recovery has been going quite smoothly,' said Mr Wu, who said he had full confidence in Hactl's new freight centre. 'There are hi-tech computer systems so the efficiency of SuperTerminal 1 will improve.' Cargolux will use a scheduled Boeing 747-400F freighter, loaded with about 100 tonnes of cargo. Mr Wu said if the trial went according to plan people would be able to collect consignments within about two hours of landing. Hactl's decision to use Kai Tak Terminal 2 has generally led to a day's delay in cargo collection. At the height of the crisis in July Cargolux was forced to use Macau airport. 'The situation was very bad at Chek Lap Kok at times,' Mr Wu said. The airline had not yet decided whether it would continue to use Macau airport as a new southern China gateway after SuperTerminal 1 began normal operations. 'It's difficult to say. We must have a careful market study before we consider using Macau as another gateway.' Part of the problem is Macau's small population and the relative lack of demand for consumer and perishable goods, compared with Hong Kong. But this could change after Macau's return to Chinese sovereignty on December 19, 1999, when cross-boundary connections with Zhuhai are expected to become more flexible. Hactl said it was confident normal cargo operations would begin at Chek Lap Kok by the end of August. Once inbound cargo can be properly processed at SuperTerminal 1, Hactl will concentrate on ensuring all export cargo can be accommodated in the system. So far exports have been limited to three pallets of pre-packed cargo per flight on a limited number of passenger aircraft.