By Damian Brett
Tom Owen, Cathay Pacific Cargo
Cathay Pacific Cargo will restart freighter flights to Europe after an absence from the trade lane of more than three months.
The carrier will add a twice-per-week B747 freighter flight from Hong Kong to Frankfurt – operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays – starting on April 13.
From Frankfurt the airline will offer onward road feeder services to several other European destinations.
The carrier was forced to significantly curtail its long-haul freighter network at the end of last year after Hong Kong introduced strict Covid rules that meant pilots would need to quarantine for seven days on arrival.
“We’re still constrained on long-haul trade lanes, but we have been working hard to free up as much capacity as possible,” said Cathay Pacific director of cargo Tom Owen.
He added: “While we welcome the recent relaxation to some quarantine requirements in Hong Kong, our cargo operations are still restricted because of ongoing crew quarantine requirements at time of writing.
“We are hopeful further changes that will allow us to restore our long-haul freighter routes will not be too far away.”
Owen said that against a base level capacity of 20% against 2019 in January, Cathay Pacific is now up to around a third of its pre-pandemic capacity.
“We are flying as much as we can regionally and have increased flights into both North East and Southeast Asia,” said Owen.
Elsewhere, the carrier is also affected by the Ukraine crisis and has taken the decision to avoid Russian airspace.
The carrier’s flight schedule remains intact but there are lengthened flight times for services to Europe and the Americas.
“We are also monitoring daily fuel prices, which are now more volatile as a result of the crisis,” said Owen.
He added that the cargo business also continues to be affected by cross border trucking issues between China and Hong Kong.
“This is affecting volumes of cargo between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, and this has been compounded by the lockdown measures taken in Shenzhen and Dongguan to support the Chinese Mainland’s dynamic zero-Covid policies,” said Owen.
“This is having an impact on production, cross-border trucking and transport in the short term. We are working closely with our freight-forwarder and shipper partners to ensure that we are still able to get as much cargo as we can through to our Hong Kong cargo terminal.”