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Cathay offers cargo only passenger flights as China airfreight rates surge

AIRFREIGHT rates from China increased rapidly last week as demand from China begins to ramp up but spare capacity remains tight

10 March 2020 - 19:00

AIRFREIGHT rates from China increased rapidly last week as demand from China begins to ramp up but spare capacity remains tight.

The latest figures from TAC Index show that last week average airfreight prices from Shanghai to North America increased by 32.3 per cent on a week earlier to US$4.02 per kg, while prices from the Chinese city to Europe jumped by 15.8 per cent compared with the prior seven days to $2.71 per kg.



Prices from Shanghai to North America are now above the $3.29 per kg that carriers were charging on the route at the corresponding point last year and to Europe they are just slightly lower than the $2.75 per kg reported in early March 2019.



Meanwhile, prices from Hong Kong to North America increased by 11.5 per cent week on week to $3.59 per kg and there was a 3.2 per cent increase to $2.58 per kg on services to Europe, reports London's Air Cargo News.



The price jump from China comes as factories continue to ramp up production following an extend Chinese New Year break as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus.



Meanwhile, capacity remains tight as passenger flights - and therefore belly space - has been cut.



Air Cargo News sister title FlightGlobal has reported that Cathay Pacific will maintain some passenger flights as cargo-only.



In a notice sent out to its clients, Cathay's cargo arm says it only expects passenger belly cargo operations to be impacted by recently-announced cuts. However, it is looking at ways to 'continue serving our cargo customers to and from Japan'.



'This includes the retention of certain passenger services for cargo carriage only,' the notice reads.



Cathay cut most of its flights to and from Japan for March, following newly-imposed travel restrictions - related to the coronavirus outbreak - from Japanese authorities, which said Chinese and Hong Kong passport holders will face a mandatory, two-week quarantine on arrival.



From March 9, the airline cut all passenger flights between Hong Kong and Fukuoka, Nagoya, Sapporo, as well as Tokyo Haneda. Starting March 13, Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai, as well as services between Taipei and Tokyo Narita and Osaka Kansai, will be cancelled.



The carrier says its freighter operations to Japan remain unaffected. 'We will communicate a revised schedule in a timely manner,' it adds.


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