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CS on hand for delivery of 100th aircraft (with photos)

    The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, today (August 29, Toulouse time) officiated in France at the delivery ceremony of Cathay Pacific Airways' 100th aircraft, marking the 60th anniversary of Hong Kong's civil aviation industry.

     "The year 2006 is an important year for Hong Kong aviation," Mr Hui said before boarding Cathay's new aircraft at the Airbus facility in Toulouse.

     In 1946, when the Government established its Directorate of Air Services, which later became the Civil Aviation Department, the Hong Kong airline started its business with one plane. In 60 years, Cathay Pacific has reached a fleet size of 100, and has been repeatedly rated the World's Best Airline by various world-renowned organisations.

     "With the emphasis worldwide on speed and connectivity, a good aviation network supported by an efficient airport infrastructure is critical to the success of any economy," Mr Hui said.

     "Cathay Pacific, in the absence of market protection or government subsidy that are quite common in other parts of the world, has thrived on its own efforts and become simply the envy of many airlines in the world," he said.

     The Government's respect for the market and its steadfast commitment to maintaining a level and open playing field for all had provided the environment for Cathay Pacific, like all other Hong Kong airlines, to build up its strength through decades of keen competition, Mr Hui remarked.

     However, he said the future was filled with challenges because Hong Kong's status as an aviation hub was facing keen competition from the emergence of new airports with large capacity in the region.

     He said that to stay ahead, Hong Kong would continue to expand and upgrade the facilities, and further enhance the operational efficiency to provide better services to the travelling public and the business community.

     Hong Kong's world-class airport has been rated the World's Best since 2001 for five years in a row, offering to the travelling public an aviation network reaching some 150 regional and long haul destinations.

     Last year, 40.7 million passengers and 3.4 million tonnes of cargo passed through Hong Kong International Airport, representing an increase of 9.7% and 10% respectively over 2004. Continued growth in 2006 and beyond is expected.

     Mr Hui said Hong Kong's strength as an aviation hub also helped another pillar of the economy - tourism - by bringing ever more visitors to Hong Kong and helping us become the world's seventh most popular tourists destination, and the only single city destination in the top 10.

Ends/Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Issued at HKT 19:15


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