HK airport’s fresh approach

September 15, 2019

In March, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) became the first in the world to be certified as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) Center of Excellence for Perishable Logistics (CEIV Fresh) Partner Airport.


Two of the airport’s cargo terminal operators, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (HACTL) and Cathay Pacific Services Limited (CPSL) have achieved IATA CEIV Fresh Certification, while Cathay Pacific recently became the world’s first airline to be certified.


IATA created the Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) to help organisations involved in the air cargo supply chain achieve handling excellence.


The certification underscores the speed, consistency and efficiency of all HKIA stakeholders when it comes to the treatment and transportation of perishable products.


It also helps to ensure food safety, and reduce food wastage and loss along the supply chain.


Quality benchmark

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited Chief Executive Wilson Kwong said the main value of the accreditation is that it provides a universally recognised standard.


“It gives assurance to the various stakeholders that we have, and we are adhering to the highest possible standards.”


Both accredited cargo terminal operators HACTL and CPSL have set up perishable cargo handling areas with truck docks next to the apron.


As soon as the perishable goods are unloaded from the aircraft, they are immediately transported to the handling area.


The clearance and sampling checks have been streamlined to minimise the time taken to unload the goods. There are cold rooms set at tailored temperatures for various kinds of perishable cargo.


Their staff training and handling process have also been assessed and certified for their compliance with the global industry standards.


Cathay Pacific Services Limited Chief Executive Officer Jenny Lam noted that one of the challenges in meeting the certification standard is training its 2,000 employees in handling and storing perishable goods.


“They first have to identify what types of perishables they are, such as are they flowers, are they fruits, are they meat, so that they know how to segregate the storage.


“Secondly, they gain knowledge about certain fruits that cannot be put close to each other such as bananas and apples.”


Growth opportunities

In 2018, the airport handled about 380,000 tonnes of perishable cargo - a rise of 12% on 2017, with perishables accounting for about 8% of total air cargo volume.


Airport Authority Commercial Executive Director Cissy Chan explained that temperature-controlled air freight is one of the fastest growing segments in the air cargo market.


She believes with the new certification, the airport is well-placed to capture the increasing growth opportunities in the market for fresh and perishable goods.


“With the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the transport time between the airport and the Greater Bay Area, notably the western part of the Pearl River Delta, will be further cut down.


“So this will put us in an even better position to become the transhipment hub for these perishables for the entire bay area.”


Extra backing

To support the growing demand for perishables, the Airport Authority has provided additional cool dollies, so there are now more than 30 for use by the whole airport community. It is also building apron shelters to protect the perishables from ambient weather elements.


Cathay Pacific Cargo Service Delivery General Manager Frosti Lau said they would work closely with the authority and its cargo terminal to see what new investments are required to handle the increasing demand.

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