The following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for Economic Services, Ms Sandra Lee, at a Continental Airlines ceremony to celebrate the first nonstop flight
from Hong Kong to New York today (March 3):
Mr Bethune, Consul General, Mrs Chow, Mr Pang, Distinguished Guests,
Thank you for inviting me to this ceremony. Mr Bethune, it is not easy to be a trailblazer: to go where no one has gone before requires vision, innovation, courage and, above all, conviction. I must therefore congratulate Continental Airlines for being the first airline to launch the daily non-stop passenger service between Hong Kong and New York.
In many ways, Hong Kong shares Continental's pioneering spirit. We keenly explore new ideas and develop new solutions, and we are prepared to look beyond the immediate horizon and get ready for the challenges ahead. We and the Airport Authority have a shared vision to promote Hong Kong's continued development as a hub for international and regional aviation, and are making concerted efforts to make sure that this happens in Hong Kong.
On the part of Government, we are committed to providing a favourable environment. We have been extending our network of bilateral Air Services Agreements and traffic arrangements. Currently, we have agreements with 45 aviation partners, thereby enabling some 65 airlines to operate over 3 300 scheduled flights per week linking Hong Kong with nearly 130 cities. We will continue to do that.
And we are not afraid of healthy competition. It is no secret that other airlines are set to enter the scene and there may soon be more daily non-stop services between Hong Kong and New York. It is my firm belief that competition will bring out the best in US and Hong Kong airlines.
We are also aware that safety is of critical importance to the development of any aviation centre. In this regard, we are committed to maintaining a high standard of civil aviation management system. The Civil Aviation Department has an effective monitoring system to ensure that the Hong Kong International Airport and our aircraft maintenance organisations comply with the relevant international standards.
Ladies and gentlemen, with the recovery of the region from the financial crisis and the impending accession of China to the World Trade Organisation, economic activities and traffic demand in Asia are likely to grow in leaps and bounds. I am sure that given the enterprising spirit, dedication and endeavours of all parties concerned, Hong Kong will be very well placed to exploit fully the advantage of its excellent geographical location to become an international and regional aviation hub.
Mr Bethune, if I may quote from your book "From Worst to First" - and I quote "How do you determine which ingredient is most important for making a successful cake" - and you said "They are all so important", and far more pertinently "Everything Connects to Everything Else". On this note I am delighted to see Continental Airlines connecting Hong Kong and New York. You certainly "Fly Right", as you said in your advertisement. I wish you fair wind and success.
End/Saturday, March 3, 2001