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Carriers eye bonanza

Published on Friday, 15 Mar 2013
Airport expansion will see carriers invest in facilities, such as Cathay’s revamped lounge.
Photo: May Tse

As plans and proposals for expansion at Chek Lap Kok move through the various stages of consideration, leading airlines will be watching every step with the closest of interest.

While nothing can yet be assumed, they are fully aware that a green light for the project could create all sorts of possibilities for extra flights, new routes and higher revenues. At the same time, though, they know that making the most of those opportunities will require an extended period of operational review and preparation, covering everything from fleet size and investment to future needs for recruitment and training.

Details will be dealt with in due course. At present, minds are focused on the overall concept and its potential positives. These include the chance to build capacity, add destinations, and increase efficiencies.

As the territory's de facto flag carrier, Cathay Pacific has been keen to highlight some of the broader benefits of the city retaining its status as one of the world's premier hubs for international air traffic.

"We firmly believe the third runway is of critical importance to the sustainability of the Hong Kong economy and, therefore, to the long-term prosperity and well-being of people here," says Albert Wong, Cathay Pacific's general manager for personnel. "Connectivity with the rest of the world has made Hong Kong what it is today, so we must be clear on how we can maintain and grow these links for our future."

Looking ahead, Wong notes that sustaining corporate success ultimately depends on the being able to attract, hire and train sufficient high-calibre candidates to support current operations and future expansion plans. Cathay's recruitment targets vary from several hundred to up to 2,000 a year, influenced by the usual economic factors.

In general, the airline has few difficulties in filling positions ranging from cabin crew and ground staff to management trainees, who may enter via the rigorous Swire Group programme. However, certain subsidiaries, which need comparatively high numbers of staff for entry-level roles, have been finding recruitment more of a challenge.

"There are a number of factors including [commuting] distance, transport connections and the nature of the job," Wong says. "But the companies concerned conduct regular reviews to ensure competitive remuneration packages and they are reaching out to educational institutes and NGOs in order to expand the pool for recruitment."

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