Tom Owen, Director, Cathay Pacific Cargo:
As I write, we are gearing up for a strong end to the year and working hard to maximise the capacity we have at our disposal. Along with our freighters, which we are flying more than ever, we are adding capacity with charters and by operating an array of aircraft for cargo-only passenger services, including six Boeing 777s that can carry cargo in the passenger cabin.
An additional pair of these 777s will enter operations early next year. We are also reactivating our seasonal service to Hobart, using an Airbus A350 (see below), and we have added Phnom Penh back into the freighter network for the winter schedule.
Our teams around the world are doing everything they can to satisfy customer demand, but no one is immune to the unique challenges of these times – not least our tireless and resilient pilots, who have done so much to keep our cargo flying and now face tougher testing and quarantine requirements.
We are incredibly thankful to them and their families during this difficult time. 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. 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.
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. 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.
Although we’re working flat out, given all these challenges our capacity remains well down compared to 2019. We had expected to be operating many more passenger services by this point, but this has not eventuated.
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.
Looking ahead, we are progressively rolling out Click & Ship, our digital booking platform, which offers customers new visibility over availability and prices, with an intuitive 24/7 booking interface and instant confirmation in many cases.
You can see from the article below that it’s a big step forward for us.
We hope that when it gets to your region, your teams will use it, and we would love to hear your thoughts about this new booking experience.
This and many of the other measures that we are taking underline our determination to invest in areas of the business that customers value.
We will continue to improve our service performance with further significant investments in digitalisation.
I am very proud that this progressive approach has been recognised by the readers of Asia Cargo News, who voted us Best Air Cargo Carrier – Asia for the second year running.
This is a big vote of confidence in our cargo teams, in Hong Kong and around the regions, for their efforts to meet our customers’ expectations over this very challenging period.