Hong Kong Airlines CEO Yang Jianhong was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying the carrier — which is controlled by China’s HNA Group — was in negotiations to acquire up to a 40% stake in Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl). Hactl currently handles about 80% of the cargo moving through Hong Kong International Airport, but will lose roughly half of that business when its biggest client Cathay Pacific Airways opens its own cargo handling terminal at the airport.
Until recently, Hong Kong Airlines was a tiny carrier with just a handful of 737 passenger jets, but HNA acquired a significant stake in 2006 with plans to turn the carrier into a significant competitor to Cathay on both the passenger and cargo fronts. Orders were placed with Airbus and Boeing for large numbers of both narrow- and widebody aircraft (some of which have already been delivered), and with the announcement of the pursuit of a stake in Hactl (as well as a bid to develop a huge hotel in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, and expansion in other directions), the scope of HNA’s plan is becoming clear.
On the freighter side of its fleet, Hong Kong Airlines currently operates three A330-200Fs (one of which is pictured above), and two 737-300Fs. It has six 777Fs on order.
Interestingly, until May 2010, Cathay Pacific held a 40% stake in Hactl, selling it to the remaining shareholders on a pro rata basis when it won the right to build its own cargo terminal. So if Hong Kong Airlines does achieve its goal, it will in fact return the shareholding structure to the same pattern that existed in the past.
The current Hactl shareholders are Jardine, Matheson & Co, Ltd ((41.67%), Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd (20.83%), The Wharf Holdings Ltd (20.83%), and China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC, 16.67%). A Hong Kong Airlines purchase of 40%, if done on a pro rata basis, would give the following:
- Hong Kong Airlines 40%
- Jardine 25%
- Hutchison 12.5%
- Wharf 12.5%
- CNAC 10%