Fruit and veg exports feed Cathay freight volume

Source: Cathay Pacific Cargo

Japanese foodstuff exports to Hong Kong are helping to keep Cathay Cargo freight volumes healthy, reported Cathay Pacific regional head of cargo, Shuichi Ueba.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the carrier has built up flights at Sapporo, from where it is currently exporting Hokkaido scallops.

Elsewhere in the region, Ueba noted that the appetite for Japanese fruit and fresh produce in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia remains strong in what is otherwise the quieter season for air cargo, although it also marks the peak for passengers.

Meanwhile, services in North Asia are getting back to normal, said Ueba, whose remit covers both Japan and Korea.

“Our freighter schedule is back to where it was before the pandemic, and we are continuing to resume passenger flights. In Seoul, that means we are back up to 24 Cathay Pacific passenger flights per week to Incheon. In Japan, we currently have 44 passenger flights per week split between the Tokyo airports with the potential for more during the summer peak, and 24 flights to Kansai International.”

Fukuoka frequencies are back to normal, flights have been restored to Nagoya and built up from practically zero at Sapporo.

While fruit and veg may be filling capacity, demand for Japan’s semiconductor and machine parts is quieter, Ueba added.

These are components used by the automotive industry and high-tech manufacturers whose inventories are now relatively high after manufacturers acted to ensure they would not again experience the shortages they did during the pandemic. It will take some time for these stocks to be consumed.

But Ueba noted: “However, the outlook for exports of these products from Japan remains positive, especially after recent announcements of increased manufacturing capability being built in the country.”

Demand is soft in many other global trade lanes, and while it is usual at this time of year to start looking ahead for signs of a peak, the market is much harder to predict this time, he pointed out.

He added that, for Cathay, being able to sell maindeck freighter space gives it advantages over airlines that only operate passenger aircraft as it is available for ad hoc shipments.

This year Cathay has carried aircraft engines and semiconductor-printing machines, for example.

Cathay Cargo remains positive in its outlook despite mixed signals

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