Cathay sees 63pc rise in cargo sales

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Cargo revenue increased by 63.1 per cent in the first half of the year, the Cathay Pacific Group said in its interim results.

Cargo sales reached £970m (HK$11.8bn) while volumes were up 24.4 per cent to 872,000 tonnes for the two airlines – Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. Yield increased by 36.1 per cent.

The Hong Kong-based airline described cargo business as very robust for the whole of the first half with strong demand in all key markets. “The cargo load factor increased by 11.8 per cent points compared with the first half of 2009, hitting a record of 78.0 per cent. By July the airline had brought back into service all five aircraft parked in the desert during last year’s downturn which helped it to meet demand.”

In February, Cathay announced a the formation of a new cargo joint venture based in Shanghai as part of a strategic partnership with Air China.

The two airlines will use an existing Air China subsidiary, Air China Cargo, in which Cathay Pacific will take a 49 per cent stake, as the platform for the joint venture, which is expected to begin operations in October.

Cathay Pacific restarted work on its own cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport in March. The £450m (HK$5.5bn) facility designed to enhance the competitiveness and efficiency of Hong Kong as an airfreight hub.

The group has announced plans to buy 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft as well as exercising existing purchase rights for six Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The total cost is reckoned to be about £6.2bn (HK$75bn). It currently operates a fleet of 128 wide-body aircraft including 25 freighters.

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