Thanks to Cathay Pacific Cargo’s ‘preighter’ fleet, Hongkong Post has been able to restart airmail services to Australia and the United Kingdom, reducing posting times from several weeks to a few days.
Because of COVID-19, Hongkong Post had to suspend airmail services to many destinations across the globe. Among the worst hit were Australia and the UK, where the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and travel restrictions have severely restricted the number of inbound passenger services. Post offices are dependent on the worldwide passenger network to keep its delivery promises for airmail and express mail services.
Now, after regulatory approval, Cathay Pacific Cargo has the necessary permissions and procedures in place from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Authority (CAD) to carry mail in the cabins of its ‘preighters’, the small fleet of Boeing 777 passenger aircraft with seats removed from the Premium Economy and Economy cabins.
The process for loading the aircraft is similar to that for cargo, using catering trucks from Cathay Pacific Catering Services to lift the mail sacks into the aircraft where they are loaded into rigid boxes in their designated floor-mounted, fire-retardant cargo bags and, in this case, overhead baggage bins too, by colleagues from Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS).
Patrick Lin, Assistant Postmaster General (Business Development) added: ‘Without this mail-in-cabin solution we would not have been able to restart airmail to Australia and the UK. There is a lot of demand for mail but it’s been closed because we can’t get the allotments.’
Pascal Lai, Cathay Pacific Cargo Products Manager, said: ‘We are delighted to have been able to offer our passenger cabin cargo solution to Hongkong Post to enable airmail to be delivered to Australia and the UK once more. We are now looking to see if we can roll this service out to other destinations that have been badly affected by the capacity reduction in passenger services.’