DHL strengthens Asia air network with Air Hong Kong freighter delivery
Air Hong Kong poised to be first carrier to operate new Airbus freighter variantSingapore, 09/13/2004, 11:30 AM CEST
Air Hong Kong, the cargo carrier joint venture between DHL and Cathay Pacific Airways, took delivery on September 10 of the first of six new Airbus A300-600F General Freighters in the carrier's new livery.
When the new freighter entered service on 12 September 2004 operating to Bangkok and Penang, Air Hong Kong became the first carrier in the world to operate this new freighter variant. The aircraft is part of an order for six A300-600GF freighters placed by Air Hong Kong in January 2003 as part of its fleet expansion programme. The new aircraft was officially handed over to Air Hong Kong on September 6 in Toulouse, France and left for Hong Kong on September 9. Deliveries of the remaining five wide-body aircraft on order will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2005.
With progressive deliveries of the new aircraft, Air Hong Kong will significantly strengthen DHL's dedicated regional air network which currently comprises 25 destinations in 16 countries served by 40 dedicated cargo flights and over 800 commercial flights daily. DHL holds a 40 per cent stakeholder in Air Hong Kong, with Cathay Pacific owning the remaining 60 per cent.
"As the only all-cargo carrier based in Hong Kong, Air Hong Kong is well-positioned to strengthen the status of Hong Kong as Asia's leading cargo and logistics hub," said John Mullen, Chief Executive Officer - Asia Pacific, DHL Express. "Air Hong Kong will also complement DHL's recently inaugurated US$100 million Central Asia Hub in Hong Kong and reinforce our regional air network's payload capacity and geographical coverage."
Air Hong Kong Chairman Tony Tyler said: "Delivery of the new freighter is a significant step in our fleet expansion. It demonstrates Air Hong Kong's commitment to enhancing Hong Kong's position as Asia's leading air cargo hub, and to strengthening our network and quality of service."
Cathay Pacific's Director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen said: "Cathay Pacific's original partnership to operate overnight services in conjunction with DHL extended Hong Kong's capability from a global passenger and cargo hub to being a regional express shipment center as well. Today's delivery of Air Hong Kong's first in a fleet of freighter aircraft signals another significant step forward in Cathay Pacific's efforts to strengthen Hong Kong's hub position as we continue to invest in the city's infrastructure and people to further develop Hong Kong's economy. "
Air Hong Kong is also the launch customer for the A300-600GF which differs from the A300-600F freighter aircraft currently being built for other carriers. Its unique features include a cargo loading system capable of handling almost every type of container and pallet, and a side door at the rear of the lower deck capable of handling large items of general freight. The new freighter is powered by two General Electric CF6-80C2 engines.
"With this order, Air Hong Kong launches a new variant of Airbus' most successful freighter, an endorsement of the strength of the Airbus product line," said Noël Forgeard, Airbus Chief Executive Officer. "The freighter market continues to grow for Airbus aircraft and this new variant is the result of Airbus listening and reacting to market demands."
Air Hong Kong currently operates a fleet of leased freighters comprising one Boeing 747-200, one Airbus A300-600, two Airbus A300B4 and one Boeing B727. The route network includes Bangkok/Penang, Osaka, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul and Singapore. As each new freighter enters service, it will replace one of the leased aircraft which will be returned to the lessors.
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