HONG KONG — Strong growth out of Hong Kong and China in September saw Cathay Pacific and Dragonair continuing to post double-digit growth as cargo and mail throughput rose 14.5 percent compared to the same month last year.
The high growth was helped by the launch of what the airline called “new consumer IT products” in a statement. Apple’s service providers cannot disclose details of shipments, but Cathay operates six freighters a week between Zhengzhou and Hong Kong that connect into the carrier’s global network. Two-thirds of the world’s iPhones are produced at Foxconn’s factories in the Henan Province city, and they are all transported by air freight.
In September, the airlines carried 147,307 tons of cargo and mail, and even as capacity, measured in available cargo/mail ton kilometres, grew 10.8 percent, the Hong Kong-based carrier increased its load factors by almost 3 percent.
This growth follows a robust August, where 146,955 tons of cargo and mail were recorded, an increase of 19.7 percent compared to August 2013.
The year-to-date figures at Cathay and Dragonair were also strong, with the airlines carrying 1.24 million tons of cargo from January through September, up 11.7 percent year-over-year.
Mark Sutch, Cathay Pacific general manager cargo sales and marketing, said the demand out of Hong Kong and the key manufacturing regions in China and Southeast Asia continued to be strong in September with traffic spurred by the launch of new consumer IT products in the market.
“Demand on the North American lanes remained strong and the Americas will remain the key focus of our cargo business as we move deeper into the peak season for airfreight. Demand to and from Europe continued to fall short of expectations,” Sutch said.
Cargo director James Woodrow said recently that the U.S. economy was critical to the growth of the air cargo industry. “The more the U.S. and global economy accelerates, the faster our load factors will grow,” he said.
Cathay Pacific will further extend its cargo business into the Americas with a new freighter service to Calgary and increased frequencies to Columbus in October, and more flights to Mexico from November.