Cathay Pacific Cargo touches down in Pittsburgh, USA

Boeing 777 ‘preighter’ to serve temporary peak-demand route

Cathay Pacific Cargo operated the inaugural flight of its new, temporary service to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US on 21 September 2020.

Initially scheduled to run for 12 weeks to support peak demand, the service operates from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, stopping at Hong Kong International Airport before crossing the Pacific and landing in the City of Bridges every Monday and Thursday until 26 November 2020. The service may be extended subject to demand.

Flight CX8800 is operated by one of Cathay Pacific’s ‘preighters’; a reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft with seats removed in the Premium Economy and Economy cabins. With this modification and the implementation of additional safety procedures, 12 tonnes of additional cargo can be carried in the passenger cabin, enabling the cargo-only flight to carry around 40 tonnes of cargo in total.

Additionally, it’s a round-world trip, with the aircraft stopping off in Frankfurt, Germany, en route back to Hong Kong to pick up cargo in response to market demand.

Fred Ruggiero, Vice-President Cargo, Americas for Cathay Pacific, said: ‘This temporary expansion underscores Cathay Pacific’s commitment to our freight forwarder partners, who requested an expanded cargo service to meet heightened demand. We are pleased to join forces with Pittsburgh International Airport and our customers and look forward to assisting with future freight needs.’

Son N. Duong, Area Cargo Manager Vietnam & Cambodia said: ‘It was a record-breaking effort and a fantastic piece of teamwork across the business with only a week to secure the slots and arrange the ground-handling services from sealing the contract. It was all the more impressive given we have never flown to Pittsburgh before.

‘Our operations team used software and simulations to ensure that every box fitted into position with minimum space wastage, and maintain the extra safety procedures for cabin cargo. We used 30 AKEs to segregate cargo to ensure that it was loaded in position assigned by the simulation’s load plan. For the first flight, we uplifted around 44 tonnes of cargo, more than nine tons of which was stowed in the cabin.’

The Pittsburgh route supplements Cathay Pacific’s extensive network throughout the Americas. The city is ideally placed between the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest, an area that is home to more than 50 per cent of the US population.

Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis added: ‘We are thrilled to partner with Cathay Pacific and Unique Logistics in expanding our air cargo network.’