Hong Kong Airport Authority appoints new finance director

William Chi-Chung Lo is to take over as executive director of finance at Hong Kong’s Airport Authority.
William Chi-Chung Lo
William Chi-Chung Lo

William Chi-Chung Lo is the new executive director of finance at the Airport Authority in Hong Kong, operator of the city's international airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Lo, who officially joins the authority in July, will be responsible for the formulation and execution of all accounting and financial policies. He replaces Raymond Wing-Cheung Lai who retires at the end of May after nearly 14 years with the authority. Lo will oversee the airport's 60-person finance staff.

"Mr Lo is a seasoned accountant with more than 25 years of wide-ranging experience in auditing, accounting, finance management and control, and corporate treasury," said Stanley Hon-Chung Hui, chief executive of the Airport Authority, in a statement. "I am confident that Mr Lo's rich experience in, and deep knowledge of, accounting and finance will be an important asset for the AA."

Lai leaves the authority after a dramatic tenure. Not only did he oversee the airport's finances during its move to the present facility from Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport in 1998, but he lead its first foray into the capital markets with an HK$2.5 billion ($322 million in current exchange rates) debt offering in 2001. Lai was also pivotal in forming a number of partnerships with airports in China, including Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

With Hong Kong International Airport in its second decade of existence, Lo will face new challenges compared to his predecessor. This year, he will have to refinance a HK$6 billion revolving credit facility that is due to mature and may have to find a way to pay for full-body scanners, which carry a price tag of as much as HK$1.6 million each, to meet new global aviation security requirements. In addition, the facility is nearing its capacity with 46.1 million passengers last year (it was originally designed for 50 million) and 59 peak-hour aircraft movements, its current maximum. Current capacity expansion proposals call for a number of multi-million dollar projects including a new airfield concourse, a third runway and a railway link with Shenzhen International Airport.

Lo joined the airport authority from Vitasoy International Holdings, maker of soymilk drinks, where he was group senior director of finance and administration. He has also held finance-related roles at K Wah Group, Siemens and with global management consultancy Deloitte.

Last year, the Airports Council International (ACI), an industry body, ranked Hong Kong International Airport 13th busiest in terms of passenger traffic globally despite a 5% drop compared to 2008. In Asia-Pacific, only Beijing Capital International Airport and Tokyo Haneda International Airport were busier, ranked third and fifth respectively by ACI.

The Airport Authority reported revenues of HK$4.3 billion for the six months ending September 30, 2009, a decline of 4.7% year-on-year, attributable to the drop in traffic. It reported a profit of HK$1.3 billion for the period.

Cathay Pacific Airways, the airport's main tenant, made a HK$4.7 billion profit in 2009, a dramatic turnaround from its HK$8.6 billion loss a year earlier.

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