Will Portland, Ore., once again have international freighter service? Possibly. The airport has been without such a service for about a year, but talks are ongoing with several carriers about establishing a new service to Asia. Portland is a relatively small airport in terms of cargo, moving 215,732 tonnes during its last fiscal year ending June 30. That was a 2.2 percent increase over the previous year.
“We are reaching out to carriers that might be able to provide non-stop freighter service from Portland to Asia and beyond,” says Steve Johnson, spokesman for the Port of Portland, which operates Portland International Airport. “We have nothing definite at this time at all. We are just talking with various airlines that could be interested in operating that service.”
Portland has had international freighter service sporadically, most recently with Aseana Airlines, which served the city for about two years. Cargo out of Portland is largely comprises of high-tech, apparel and perishables such as local cherries and blueberries, Johnson says, adding that several companies in the region have asked the airport to explore re-establishing a freighter route to Asia.
Could a potential new carrier be Cathay Pacific? Maybe, if the airline determines that the economic work. James Woodrow, director cargo for the Hong Kong-based carrier, notes that in the past year Cathay has added freighter service in the Americas to Rickenbacker, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Calgary.
“As for Portland and Seattle, we have in the past and will in the future, have a look at those markets to see whether freighter services make sense,” Woodrow tells Air Cargo World. “To date it hasn’t made sense, however, who knows going forward? There are big brands such as Nike in the region, so it does have potential.”
Nike would presumably be a user of freighter service. A spokesman declined to comment for this article. Other potential shippers in the area could include Intel, Columbia Sportswear and Precision Castparts.
Craig Johnson, general manager of Jet Expedited Transport in Portland, a trucking company that serves air cargo, says there is a need for freighter service. However, he believes it will be a struggle for a carrier to make a profit.
“We’ve had other carriers stay for short periods of time and a lot of times are offered landing fee subsidies by the airport, but once those are exhausted, thet are gone,” he says.