No Christmas cheer for Cathay

CATHAY Pacific, the world’s largest air cargo carrier, saw cargo traffic fall 13.8 per cent in November instead of seeing the traditional pre-Christmas peak. This was the eighth consecutive decline in cargo tonnage. Cargo load factor fell 6.3 per cent to 65.3.

“November is traditionally the busiest time for our cargo business in the build-up to the Christmas season in the United States and Europe, but the peak simply didn’t arrive this year,” said cargo general manager James Woodrow.

As a result of the continuing decline in demand, Cathay announced it will delay delivery of two 747-8Fs and reduce its cargo operations in 2012

Of a 10-aircraft order, the carrier already has four of its 747-8Fs, and will receive another four in 2012 and the final two in 2013. Those freighters will increase the carrier’s capacity but it is now planning only on expanding its cargo capacity by 10 per cent next year, instead of the previously forecast 17 per cent.

“Cargo is not exactly the glamorous face of the airline business, but it is a very important part of what we do at Cathay Pacific,” said Cathay’s chief executive officer, John Slosar. “In a good year cargo will account for nearly a third of our turnover.

“While our cargo business is going through a cyclical slump at the moment, we continue to do the work needed to secure our long-term prospects. The current slump is very real but we’ve faced these downturns before and always come out stronger.”

As well as Cathay’s suffering, Hong Kong International Airport saw cargo traffic fall 6.6 per cent in November, as did Air China with a drop of over 17 per cent since last year.

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