Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific to add fourth weekly cargo flight to Miami
By Zachary S. Fagenson
A year after Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific started sending cargo planes to Miami three times a week, it's to add a fourth trip bringing cargo from one of China's manufacturing hubs to Miami and points South.
And each trip could be carrying more cargo as Cathay prepares to take delivery of 10 new freighter planes.
In 2009, China sent about $3.5 billion worth of goods to the Miami customs district, according to USATradeOnline.gov, a trade database maintained by the US Census Bureau.
In its first year, Cathay brought 15,277 tons of cargo into Miami, said Chris Mangos, Miami International Airport's director of marketing.
Cathay is joined by only China Airlines and Seoul-based Korean Air as the only Asia-based cargo shippers in bringing cargo from Asia directly into Miami International Airport.
And Cathay's addition of larger freighters to its fleet of 25 may position the airport to see even more business.
"At the moment we are on order for 10 747-800 series freighters," said Stephen Wong, vice president of cargo for Cathay's Americas operations. The planes "will be delivered to Cathay at the beginning of next year and this equipment will basically touch all North American routes."
Cathay's current freighter, the Boeing 747-400, can carry 124 tons of cargo 4,450 nautical miles, according to Boeing's Web site. The new freighter will be able to haul "16% more revenue cargo volume than its predecessor," the site says.
Cathay's cargo haulers leave Hong Kong and stop in Anchorage to refuel before heading to Miami, Houston, Anchorage and back to Hong Kong.
Cargo planes coming to the US from Hong Kong are about 90% full, Mr. Wong said, while going back they're at about 70% of capacity.
Flights leave Hong Kong headed for the US on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. And the fourth flight, Mr. Wong added, should begin at the end of March when the airline moves from its winter to summer schedule.
"We are adding one more flight to Miami … because of the strong demand," he said. Cathay also knows "how important Miami is to access Latin America."
Half of each plane's cargo stays in Miami, he estimated, while the other half heads to points in Latin America.
This additional flight could be the first of many.
Hong Kong, a city of about 7 million, is separate both politically and economically from mainland China. But it's quickly become recognized as a financial and shipping capital of Asia.
The city sits at the base of the Pearl River Delta, a geographic region that about 48 million Chinese call home with a gross industrial output of about $195 billion, according to the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province.
Goods from across the region, Mr. Wong said, are trucked or sent by train to Hong Kong before being shipped across the globe.
And according to Mr. Mangos, Miami is destined to only become more economically tied to Hong Kong and mainland China.
"Recently relations have warmed up [between Taiwan and China] and [China Airlines] now has rights into the mainland," Mr. Mangos said. Miami International only deals with the Taipei hub in Taiwan. "We now have access to 22 markets in mainland China and access to three powerhouse cargo hubs.
"I look it as a win-win."