Cathay Cargo is looking to further promote its newly launched intermodal route between Hong Kong International Airport and its new Cathay Cargo Terminal in Dongguan as the carrier expects "another seemingly challenging year" for the industry.
In his Lunar New Year message, Tom Owen, director cargo at Cathay, said the airline has now commenced imports between HKIA and Dongguan, with the first commercial import shipments heading by boat directly from the airport into this giant consumer market.
"We will work this year to encourage the industry to make use of this intermodal route and hopefully even out the differential flow between exports and imports," Owen said.
"Later in the year, we will also look at our cross-border trucking options to the GBA and further north into the heart of the Chinese Mainland," he added.
Owen said the other year-end highlight was the confirmation of Cathay's order of six next-generation Airbus A350F freighters, which will start to join the airline's fleet in 2027.
Cathay also secured the right to acquire 20 more of these wide-body freighters.
"These will not only be exciting additional to our fleet but also demonstrate our long-term confidence in Hong Kong," Owen said.
"These aircraft will allow us to grow our capacity as Hong Kong moves towards three-runway operations, which are scheduled to be ready end of this year, and help to deploy that capacity in new and creative ways," he added.
"Looking ahead to 2024, we have another seemingly challenging year to come," the director cargo at Cathay said.
Owen noted that in market terms, while last year was something of a return to normalisation, helped by some recovery in consumer confidence, there is still market uncertainty.
"We will need to remain vigilant and alert to opportunities and challenges," he said, noting that supply chains may come under pressure early from events in the Red Sea and Panama Canal.
"We will need to hone the agility we learned during the pandemic to respond quickly to any market fluctuations and changes in customer needs," Owen further said.
"From our own perspective, in 2024, we expect to have a busy year.
Owen said Cathay aim to build on the success of its rebranding last year and its marketing campaign by keeping up the pace of our digitisation programme on the operational and commercial sides of the business while refreshing and relaunching more of our special handling solutions.
"This year, the focus will be on demonstrating to the market how and why We Know How across our suite of special handling solutions and increased digitisation," the director cargo, at Cathay said.
Meanwhile, Owen said that following the tradition of Chinese New Year as the last apex of the traditional winter peak period, the carrier finished 2023 on "something of a high, fuelled primarily by e-commerce."
"As some of the inflationary pressures eased and consumer confidence grew over the course of last year, the appetite for online retail intensified in almost every market but especially across the Americas," he added.
"We ended the year by strengthening our intermodal links with our extended home market in the Greater Bay Area (GBA)," Owen further noted.