Cathay Sees Cargo Volume Rising In 2012

November 17, 2011

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Cathay Pacific Airways expects its cargo volume will return to growth in 2012 as it adds new services and capacity is seen growing 15 to 18 percent next year, its cargo director said on Thursday.

Cathay's cargo throughput this year was likely to be lower than 2010 while it budgeted for an increase in 2012, Nick Rhodes told reporters after the topping-out ceremony of the airline's HKD$5.5 billion (USD$706.8 million) cargo terminal at Hong Kong Airport.

"From China to other parts of the world, we hope there will be an increase in tonnage because we are adding more flights such as Chengdu and Chongqing," he said.

Cathay's October cargo throughput fell 17.5 percent on the year and tonnage had dropped by 7.7 percent for the first 10 months of the year due to continued weak demand in Hong Kong and China while capacity was up by 8.1 percent.

People should not compare Cathay's 2011 cargo throughput with 2010, which was an exceptionally good year boosted by strong demand post the economic downturn, Rhodes said.

But he said competition was keen.

"We expect an increase in the tonnage (in 2012) but there is plenty of competition, so when there is a lot of competition, if you increase your volume, increase your tonnage, the hardest to forecast is what will happen to the price? What will happen to the yield?," he said.

Rhodes said following the delivery of new passenger aircraft and freighters, Cathay's cargo capacity was expected to rise between 15 and 18 percent next year.

Cathay had recently taken delivery of the first of its 10 747-8 freighters ordered from Boeing.

Besides new aircraft, Cathay is also investing in a cargo terminal in Hong Kong. The terminal is scheduled to start operations in 2013 with a designed capacity of 2.6 million tonnes in the first phase.

"We want the cargo terminal here that's really efficient so that we can bring cargos in and out through trans-shipment, very efficiently," Rhodes said.

The terminal will lift Hong Kong airport's total designed annual capacity for air cargo by 50 percent to 7.4 million tonnes, boosting the competitiveness of the Hong Kong air cargo hub, which is the busiest in the world.