Meet the Regional Board: Airport Authority Hong Kong
- 07 Jan 2021
In the ‘Meet the Board’ series, we are featuring and introducing the members of the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board. We will get to know them better by learning about their leadership style, their thoughts on the next generation of leaders and, unavoidably, the impact of the pandemic.
Introducing Mr. Fred Lam. Appointed Chief Executive Officer in October 2014 to the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK). Previously, Mr. Lam was Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. His tenure on the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board started in 2014 as a Special Advisor, followed by a Board Director position. He then moved on to be the Second Vice President for two terms and now continues his involvement as Board Director. He also represents the region at the ACI World Governing Board.
What have you had to do differently in terms of leading your team during the pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken us into uncharted territory and we have to act promptly in response to the fast-changing situation. The health and safety of passengers and staff is always accorded the highest priority at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). In the wake of the pandemic, we have further stepped up our health measures on all fronts. One key focus is on the deployment of technologies, such as the use of facial recognition for a touchless passenger journey, robots for cleaning, antimicrobial coating on surface frequently touched by users, and disinfection channels for staff. We are very glad that HKIA is among the first Asia Pacific airports to be accredited under ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation programme.
Internationally, AAHK has been working ever more closely with ACI, ICAO, IATA and other major hub airports on formulating common standards and safety procedures for our passengers. At our home base, AAHK has been supporting the airport community with several rounds of relief packages that cover a broad array of business partners. The continuing relief measures include waiver or reduction of charges, rent and franchisee fees. We have also purchased some 500,000 air tickets from our home-based carriers in order to inject liquidity during this difficult time as well as to support the future campaign to attract residents and visitors to travel to Hong Kong or via HKIA when the pandemic is over.
Apart from COVID-19, what are the most pressing issues facing your airport?
As the busiest air cargo hub in the world, we have to keep the goods flowing in spite of the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, around 40% of the cargo at HKIA was transported using the belly of passenger aircraft. Such capacity has been significantly reduced as a large number of passenger flights are grounded. To meet the rising demand for e-commerce products and medical supplies during the pandemic, AAHK has worked with the airport community, including airlines, cargo terminal operators and government departments to boost cargo capacity supply. While airlines have been operating additional cargo flights and refitted passenger aircraft into all-cargo “preighters”, AAHK worked with the government on the facilitation for the COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures for the air crew members in order to maintain normal operations. With the collaborative efforts, freighter movements have seen a significant growth and a stable cargo throughput at HKIA has been maintained.
Freighter movements have seen a significant growth and a stable cargo throughput at HKIA has been maintained.
What are you most proud of at your airport?
I am very proud of all the frontline staff who have been working professionally and tirelessly to keep operations running smoothly round-the-clock and adapt flexibly during these challenging times, so that passengers would feel safe travelling through our airport.
What is your advice to young people in the aviation business?
Embrace the challenges and changes. In the coming few years, we could expect major changes as the entire aviation industry is faced with huge uncertainties on the road to recovery. Perhaps the only thing we are certain about is that things would be very different from how they used to be as people would be travelling differently. Airport and airlines will have to adjust their modus operandi and adopt technology extensively to respond to the changes. AAHK remains confident in the long-term development of the aviation industry, especially that of Asia. In Hong Kong, we continue to implement our long-term projects to realise our airport city vision. We trust when the pandemic subsides and global air travel recovers, the industry would continue to grow and provide a lot of opportunities for our young people.