The following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for Economic Services, Ms Sandra Lee, at the Launch Party of United Airlines' Flights to New York and Delhi today (March 15): (English only)
Dear Mr Brennan, Consuls General, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here to celebrate with you the launch of United Airlines' new non-stop service to New York and the resumption of its service to Delhi in April.
We in Hong Kong welcome all air services expansion with open arms. Among all US passenger carriers, United operates the largest number of services from Hong Kong and enjoys a long history of association with us. In fact, Hong Kong was among the first two cities served by United across the Pacific back in 1983 and I understand that Jim, who was working for United in Seattle then, had himself played a major part in United's decision to fly to Hong Kong from Seattle at that time.
Since then, things have moved on. We now have a new Hong Kong International Airport operated to an extremely high standard and capable of handling some 87 million passengers per year upon full development. We have also implemented a series of measures to further develop Hong Kong into an international and regional aviation centre.
For instance, we will continue to open up Hong Kong's air services markets in line with our progressive liberalisation policy. We will, in this process, proactively engage in constructive dialogues with our aviation partners to ensure that the corresponding bilateral air services arrangement is fair and equitable; provides clear rules and a level playing field for airlines of both sides to expand services; and can bring real economic benefits to both sides.
With the impending accession of China to the World Trade Organisation, economic activities and air services demand in the region are expected to grow tremendously. Hong Kong is committed to doing what is necessary to capture and fulfil that demand. Against this background, I am sure that there will be ample opportunities for enterprising airlines, such as United, to further expand their operation in Hong Kong.
Before closing, I would like to congratulate again United Airlines on the introduction of the two services and wish them every success. Thank you.
End/Thursday, March 15, 2001