Aviation article(s)
June 5, 2024

Cathay Cargo is anticipating a stronger second half of the year should current freight demand continue.


Jansen Stafford, regional head of Cargo Europe, said the current market has exceeded his expectations, and Cathay has also been handling an increasing amount of high-quality, special-solutions cargo.


"The market has so far been healthy in 2024, in fact, stronger than I thought it was going to be," he said, speaking at the airline's Cargo Clan publication.


He noted that it is softening a bit now, but then that's the same everywhere and shows a return to normality.


"What is pleasing is that we've been handling a lot of high-quality, special-solutions cargo, which is what we wanted and what we've been able to attract," Stafford said.


"Should it maintain these levels through the summer, we'll probably be looking to a stronger back half of the year, but this is crystal ball stuff given the potential headwinds from geopolitical and economic events," he added.


In Europe, he noted that Barcelona would be back to the Cathay network on June 17 — a summer seasonal passenger service using an Airbus A350-900, with flights leaving Hong Kong just after midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving back the morning of the next day.


"It's a positive addition because Barcelona tends to offer pharmaceuticals and perishables, and there is a definite market for air cargo around the region out to Valencia and around to Bilbao, and it will be good to tap into that again,"  Cathay's regional head of Cargo Europe, said.
"More importantly, in combination with the thrice-weekly Cathay flights to Madrid, it means that there are now six flights a week into Spain," he added, noting that Cathay Cargo will operate 32 freighters and more than 310 passenger flight pairs to Europe in June.

Stafford noted that Europe is still led in tonnage terms by Frankfurt.
"The market there is in good shape, and we operate four freighters a week. It’s always been the strongest European destination by tonnage, because it has the capacity in combination with the passenger flights. While there has always been a local market, the capacity is allocated across the continent because trucking between ports to access capacity is such a feature in Europe," he added.
Stafford further said that Cathay's first cargo operations in Europe started in 1981 in Frankfurt in a joint venture with Lufthansa. Today, the carrier still partners with Lufthansa Cargo and, since 2022, Swiss WorldCargo in a joint business agreement.

"The air cargo industry has changed a lot since those early days, particularly in handling and handing over shipments in the warehouse," Stafford said.
He noted that Cathay Cargo Terminal, for example, continues to lead the charge by eliminating paperwork and introducing digitalisation to modernise warehouse processes.
Stafford said that this year, working with Airport Authority Hong Kong, Cathay Cargo Terminal has introduced an app-based collection process for agents in Hong Kong to boost Cathay’s wider sustainability efforts and make the process quicker, easier and more secure for customers.
"Cathay Cargo Terminal has also introduced e-payments in Hong Kong and at the Cathay Cargo Terminal in Dongguan, where the take-up has been universal," he added.
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