Cathay Pacific’s wine service lifts November spirits

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Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific, and Dragonair cargo, its wholly owned subsidiary, have completed their aptly named 2014 Wine Lift campaign, delivering a record 1,918 tonnes of wine from Europe to Japan.

The shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau, which is equivalent to 1.75 million bottles, moved from Paris to Japan for Beaujolais Nouveau Day, Nov. 19.

The cherry-red wine ­– best served chilled, unlike most red vintages – is released at 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday after harvest, with celebrations across the Beaujolais region of France, and also the world.  Popular in Japan, the 2014 shipment bested the 2013 delivery of 1,400 tonnes by 37 percent.

In addition to Cathay’s regular cargo flights, not less than six 747-8F cargo flights were dedicated entirely to Beaujolais Nouveau.

Cathay Pacific Cargo has developed a tailored service for the Wine Lift shipments, using refrigerated containers to keep the wine within desired temperature ranges and ensure its quality.

The operation was based on a total of 32 cargo and passenger flights – including 20 from Paris – calling on other European destinations including Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London. Floor space and suitable equipment is also provided in the storage areas of most destinations of the airline’s network. Temperature-controlled storage facilities are also available on the ground at most Cathay and Dragonair destinations.

With the boost from the shipments of Beaujolais, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair have continued to show strong year-over-year growth. Between the two, the carriers shipped 165,102 tonnes of cargo and mail in November 2014, up 12 percent from the same period last year.

Load factors with cargo and mail were up 4.7 percentage points to 68.4 percent over the same period last year, even though capacity, measured in available cargo/mail-tonne kilometers, rose by 5.3 percent. Cargo and mail revenue-tonne kilometers (RTKs) flown were up by 13.1 percent; and through November 2014, tonnage rose by 11.9 percent, year-over-year, with RTKs increasing 14.8 percent, despite a 10.7 percent increase in freight capacity.

“Our business was helped by the bottlenecks in seaports on the West Coast of the USA, leading to more shipments being moved by air,” said Cathay Cargo boss Mark Sutch. “Intra-Asian traffic remained robust in November, and it was a better month for our cargo business in Europe, helped by big shipments of the new-release Beaujolais out of France.”


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