Joining the graduates for the celebration were the two guests of honour, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung, and Director-General of Civil Aviation Norman Lo, along with a number of senior figures from airport-related organisations which gave their support to the programme.
“I Can Fly” was set up by Cathay Pacific in 2003 to help nurture a passion for aviation among local school students and at the same time enable them to make a contribution to their home community. So far more than 3,200 youngsters have completed the programme, with some of the former members already forging careers in aviation, including working as Cathay Pacific pilots.
For the fifth “I Can Fly”, 100 selected members, aged 15-18, were guided through a six-month programme in which they learnt about aviation, developed a sense of teamwork and responsibility, and designed and implemented their own social service programmes to highlight the importance of giving back to the community.
On the aviation side, the members visited various facilities in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong International Airport and its Air Traffic Control Tower, Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Ltd, the Government Flying Service and Cathay Pacific Catering Services. They also attended ground school training to learn about various aspects of flight operations, inflight services, airport services and engineering.
The programme ended with visits to aviation organisations overseas for the 100 members, including the FTA flight training school in Adelaide, the Boeing factory in Seattle, and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation facilities in Shanghai. Throughout the entire programme the participants had pilots and other Cathay Pacific staff acting as their mentors and guides.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Cathay Pacific’s Ivan Chu said: “As Hong Kong’s home carrier for almost 66 years, we are deeply committed to our local community and in particular to helping young people reach for their dreams. I hope the members of this year’s ‘I Can Fly’ programme have learnt a great deal about aviation and developed a greater sense of responsibility towards their community. Our thanks go to all those organisations whose great support helped to boost the learning experience for the members.”
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung described the “I Can Fly” programme as a unique scheme which combines aviation knowledge and social service elements. “The programme not only equips youngsters with aviation knowledge, but also helps them to develop a spirit of serving the community,” Mr Cheung said. “I would like to express my gratitude to Cathay Pacific’s staff leaders, pilots and aircrew members who set a good example for the youngsters by volunteering to join as mentors. It is very encouraging to know that some of the former members have already joined the aviation workforce and are on the road to making their dreams come true.”
Mr Cheung also pointed out that the HKSAR government strives to provide employment support for young people via different channels, and that he appreciated the airline’s efforts in nurturing Hong Kong’s youth and actively promoting corporate social responsibility. He said: “Apart from the ‘I Can Fly’ Programme, Cathay Pacific has been closely cooperating with the Labour Department to offer youngsters insights into the aviation industry and career opportunities in the field, through initiatives such as the Youth Employment Start Programme.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Director-General of Civil Aviation Mr Norman Lo praised the “I Can Fly” programme for helping in the development of Hong Kong’s youth.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Cathay Pacific Airways for organising this programme, and for its continuous contribution in nurturing young aviation talents and consolidating Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation centre,” Mr Lo said.
More information on the “I Can Fly” programme can be found at the programme website, http://icanfly.cathaypacific.com. More details of Cathay Pacific’s community activities can be found in the airline’s 2011 Sustainable Development Report, available from the About Us section at www.cathaypacific.com.