Cathay Pacific Cargo sees high return on PDX-HKG connection

Since the November 2016 launch of The Cathay Pacific Cargo direct freighter service between Portland and Hong Kong, our widebody aircraft now cross the Pacific Ocean three times a week en route to Portland, the “City of Roses,” with three additional flights in the summer months, connecting consumers to the brands and products they know and love.

Online shopping is an integral piece of our economy today, making cargo shipping essential to any international brand. The newest and largest Cathay Pacific freighter, a 747-8F, has cargo space to accommodate up to 135 tons. The space and frequent flights ensure the high volumes of goods from Oregon-based companies — from apparel and sportswear brands to technology providers and aircraft manufacturers — are available to the consumer as quickly as possible.

The e-commerce economy is expected to exceed US$1 trillion in 2018. Portland is one of the fastest-growing hubs for e-commerce shipments – Oregon is a sales tax-free state – making it an easy choice for companies large and small to ship overseas from Portland International Airport (PDX).

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), Cathay Pacific’s main hub, is known as the world’s busiest airport for cargo traffic, with throughput exceeding 5 million tons of mail and cargo in 2017. Though a smaller city, Portland is recognized as one of the top export areas in the U.S. thanks in part to international consumers’ rising demands for fresh produce, such as cherries, blueberries, seafood, and chilled or frozen meats. Between January and April 2018, the peak season for perishable cargo, Cathay Pacific experienced a 30 percent increase in tonnage through Portland, outpacing nearly all other cities in North America.

Additionally, Cathay Pacific’s international cargo network provides shippers more choices and flexibility in moving products overseas. For both shippers and consumers, speed is of the upmost importance. The combination of frequent flights out of Portland and our world-class cargo facility in Hong Kong allows Cathay Pacific to quickly transport, connect and distribute cargo throughout the rest of Asia, including India, and Australia. Cathay Pacific bases its business model on its experience moving passengers around the world — products were previously moved with the same immediacy in the belly of the plane before dedicated freighter flights rolled out.

For now, Portland is an added stopover to fill up the slower, summer flights from the East Coast and Midwest before they make their way to Asia. But this may change in the future.

Portland is one of the greenest cities in which Cathay Pacific Cargo operates – a particularly significant trait to many in and outside of the city. Transporting shipments out of Portland eliminates a large percentage of trucking used to transport goods to larger airports, resulting in less carbon emissions.

These trends are expected to become more integral to our global consumer culture. Cathay Pacific is ready for the challenge.

Ruggiero is vice president of Cathay Pacific Cargo, Americas

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