Cathay Pacific Airways saw further declines in air cargo throughput in January despite the shift in timing of Chinese New Year, which started Jan 31 this year, compared with Feb. 10 in 2013 and was expected to prompt a major rush of expedited deliveries in mid-January.
Cathay Pacific and Dragonair carried a combined 130,955 metric tons of cargo and mail in January, down 1.4 percent year-on-year even though capacity grew 8.3 percent.
Cathay also recorded a surprising decline in December year-on-year after a strong increase in November.
Mark Sutch, Cathay Pacific general manager cargo sales & marketing, said markets had softened quite sharply after the pre-Christmas peak, and the carrier had not seen any significant surge in demand prior to Chinese New Year except for an increase in imports of seafood and other perishables into North Asia in advance of the holidays.
“Demand fizzled out as the long holiday began in Mainland China and factories closed in other manufacturing centres in the region. We expect the pickup in February to be slow,” he added.
However, notwithstanding falling volumes and intense competition from rival operators and airports, the group has now officially launched its new terminal at Hong Kong International Airport operated by Cathay Pacific Services Limited.
CPSL gradually unveiled the HK$5.9 billion facility in a phased approach that started in February 2013 and lasted through October.
Speaking at the official launch last week, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar said that Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal was one of the world’s biggest terminals, with a capacity of 2.6 million metric tons per annum, and would help to sustain Hong Kong’s position as the leading air cargo hub in the region.
“We believe the combination of this new terminal, our growing fleet and the professionalism of Hong Kong’s logistics community will help to provide a flexible and dynamic logistics solution for Hong Kong’s airfreight industry, and this is very important given the growing competition from other hubs around the region,” he said.
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