Cathay Pacific Cargo outlines transpacific ULD challenges

By Damian Brett

Tom Owen, Cathay Pacific Cargo

Cathay Pacific director of cargo Tom Owen has outlined the current challenges the airline faces in the cargo market.

Owen explained that Cathay Pacific is currently battling a ULD shortage on the transpacific while it also continues to be effected by the recent positive Covid cases amongst its pilots.

Earlier this month, three freighter pilots tested positive for Covid-19 following a layover at a Frankfurt Airport.

It was reported that any cabin crew and pilots that passed through the hotel earlier in the month – as well as any that have come in contact with the pilots – were asked to quarantine for 21 days.

“Unfortunately, the recent positive cases recorded among our flight crew require adjustments to our European schedule but we will continue to work hard to find solutions to replace this capacity at the earliest opportunity,” Owen said.

“Above all, we are continuing to work with the Hong Kong SAR Government to operate with the highest degree of safety and compliance in order to safeguard public health.”

He also reported ongoing issues on the transpacific trade lane with the availability of ULDs, which the airline is tackling with the addition of extra units.

“Global constraints in the supply chain are also impacting our operation to some degree, particularly on the transpacific routes around the availability of pallets and ULDs,” Owen said.

“It is taking much longer for units to be delivered back to our warehouses in the US after collection by the consignee.

“Backlogs in both our and consignee warehouses, along with shortages of trucks and labour issues, are combining to make this very challenging.

“We’re doing our best to ensure we have sufficient supplies in Hong Kong for our customers. These efforts have included leasing more units, incentivising faster turnarounds in the US, and accelerating the repair process.

“Our regional teams remain very focused on this and we will be getting more containers back into the system quicker.”

Owen also said cargo capacity remains down on pre-pandemic levels, even though the airline had hoped the situation would have improved by now.

In October, Cathay Pacific operated around 70% of its pre-pandemic (October 2019) cargo capacity.

“We had expected to be operating many more passenger services by this point, but this has not eventuated,” said Owen.

“This is putting more constraints on our capacity and upwards pressure on market rates, which are unprecedented on many trade lanes, particularly transpacific.

“I know our teams are working with our partners in honouring the capacity that we have committed, given the high requirements during this peak.”

Cathay Pacific considers stricter quarantine rules after freighter pilots test positive

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