The airline used the event to unveil its latest aircraft, a new Boeing 747-8 Freighter in a unique livery and carrying a special name, Hong Kong Trader, in recognition of the city’s position as one of the world’s most important trading hubs.
In addition to the HKSAR Chief Executive, the terminal topping-out ceremony was attended by special guests from a number of government departments, representatives from the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, the Airport Authority and Civil Aviation Department, key contractors involved in the projects and friends from Hong Kong’s airfreight industry.
Speaking at the ceremony, John Slosar said: “When it begins operations in early 2013 the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal will mark a major advancement in Hong Kong’s position as the world’s busiest international air cargo hub. Cathay Pacific has worked tirelessly to develop Hong Kong’s hub role and we are continuing to make huge investments – in the terminal and in new aircraft - to help boost our city’s competitive edge.
“Together with our commitment to buy next-generation freighters – including 10 Boeing 747-8s and eight Boeing 777-200Fs - and our purpose-built fast-connection terminal, Hong Kong will continue to lead the world in air cargo. It’s important that we put ourselves in a good position to face up to the growing competition from other hubs in the region. The aircraft, the terminal, the professionalism of Hong Kong’s logistics community and, we hope, a third runway can make it happen.”
Dr Marvin Cheung, Chairman of the Airport Authority said: “Cathay Pacific’s new cargo terminal – the fourth at Hong Kong International Airport – will be a timely addition to our facilities. When it starts operations in 2013, it will increase our total designed annual capacity for air cargo by 50%, to 7.4 million tonnes. In the coming years, additional freighter parking stands will be built both at the midfield area and the west apron to meet forecast growth.”
In March 2008, the Airport Authority awarded Cathay Pacific Services Ltd (CPSL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the airline, the franchise to invest in, design, construct and operate the new air cargo terminal at HKIA under a 20-year agreement. The facility will occupy a site of around 10 hectares in the airport’s cargo area.
The HK$5.5 billion terminal is being designed for an annual air cargo throughput of 2.6 million tonnes and will help boost the efficiency and competitiveness of the Hong Kong air cargo hub. At the heart of the cargo terminal is a HK$1.4 billion material handling system, or MHS, which will be the most advanced in the world to date.
The contract for the construction of the main terminal building was awarded to a Gammon-Hip Hing Joint Venture while the MHS will be provided by Siemens.
When the terminal is fully operationally, CPSL will employ around 1,800 people to run the facility on a 24-7 basis, handling imports, exports and transshipments with unparalleled efficiency. The building of the terminal also provided employment for a great many people, with some 1,800 working on the project during the peak construction period.
Hong Kong Trader provided a dramatic backdrop to the topping-out ceremony, resplendent in a one-off livery that features Hong Kong’s iconic skyline. The aircraft is the second of 10 Boeing 747-8Fs and two more will be delivered before the end of the year. The new arrivals will be deployed primarily on Cathay Pacific’s ultra-long-haul routes, providing greater capacity and superior efficiency to the Boeing 747-400F.
The name of the aircraft is taken from Cathay Pacific’s very first 747 freighter which entered the fleet in 1982 and helped the airline begin to develop its position as one of the world’s biggest and most highly regarded international airfreight carriers. At the end of 1982, Cathay Pacific had just one freighter and carried 105,450 tonnes of freight. At the end of 2010, a record cargo year, the airline had a fleet of 20 wide-body freighters and carried 1,804,000 tonnes of freight across its global network.