Cathay Pacific Cargo operated its first-ever freighter route to South America in mid-December. A state-of-the-art Boeing 747-8F made the trip from Hong Kong via Anchorage and New York to Santiago, Chile, to collect over 110 tonnes of freshly harvested cherries for markets in South Korea, Japan, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong SAR.
The freighter was loaded to the maximum weight possible for the return flight to Hong Kong via Miami and Anchorage. The cherries were picked up in Santiago in the early hours of Tuesday, 17 December (Hong Kong time), and were on supermarket shelves by Wednesday afternoon.
This Cathay Pacific Cargo charter showed air freight logistics at its very best, considering that Chile is literally on the other side of the world.
Captain Frederic Maury, who led the flight deck on the historic leg from New York to Chile, said: ‘It was a straight flight south from JFK International Airport over the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, Ecuador and Peru before finally making an approach to Santiago along the highest mountains outside of Asia.
‘There were volcanoes in Ecuador and Peru close to 6,000 metres high that were erupting, but that didn’t affect the flight. The arrival in Chile’s capital let us fly along the Andes and the tallest peak in the Americas – Aconcagua in Argentina, at 6,962 metres!’
Camilo Gallo, Area Cargo Manager Florida and Off-Line Americas at Cathay Pacific, said: ‘It was an honour to welcome the first Cathay Pacific flight to the continent. We are already one of the biggest air freight operators between South America and Asia, but that is through interline agreements with local airlines to stations where cargo can connect to our network not only through Mexico and North America, but also through Europe and Oceania. So it was really exciting to see our own aircraft in Santiago.’