A scheduled Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747 freighter CX3251 has become the first aircraft to operate from the new North Terminal at Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport on the Chinese Mainland on 16 August.
The first shipment included a good mix of cargo, including an oversized consignment that had to be loaded through the nose door. New facilities at the Zhengzhou terminal include parking bays, designed to make nose-door operations more straightforward.
‘We carried an odd-sized shipment which was 7.2 metres long,’ says Jenny He, Regional Head of Cargo Chinese Mainland. ‘The other cargo included pharmaceuticals, Fresh LIFT shipments and some RBI lithium-ion batteries, which were packed in our Fire Containment Bags (FCBs).’
The new cargo facility adds 16 aircraft stands, 3,000 square metres of cold chain storage with seven temperature zones, and increases the ambitious airport’s potential cargo handling to more than one million tonnes a year.
Alongside Chengdu (CTU) and Chongqing (CKG), Zhengzhou (CGO) is one of the ‘Three C’s’ – the three principal logistics and trading hubs in the central and western regions of the Chinese Mainland. These areas are also manufacturing centres for international consumer electronics brands.
Cathay Pacific Cargo has been a principal operator at Zhengzhou since 2012 (see box below) and currently flies three weekly freighter services, on top of a weekly wide-body passenger flight. The city is connected to many parts of the country via a comprehensive trucking network, which brings in air cargo for export from far beyond the city limits. Cathay Pacific Cargo’s Zhengzhou trucking schedule offers convenient connections to and from multiple cities on the Chinese Mainland.
The first shipment to the new cargo terminal was mainly supplied by Dimerco. The airport and region are growing in significance for the business, as Eddie Law, General Manager of Dimerco Air Forwarders (HK) Ltd, explains.
‘In the long term, the Chinese Mainland Government is positioning Zhengzhou as China’s Memphis: one of the air freight cargo gateways in China,’ he says.
‘Based on the current overall capacity in China (including Hong Kong), Zhengzhou was responsible for four per cent of total international air freight capacity. With the launch of the new North Cargo Terminal, more airlines will extend their network into Zhengzhou.’
Dimerco’s experience of the new facilities greatly helped with the inaugural flight and facilitated discussions with Zhengzhou Airport Authority.
Cathay’s He adds: ‘Just like Dimerco, we have dedicated our team to develop Zhengzhou’s market and position it as one of the main airports on the Chinese Mainland for both imports and exports. The establishment of the new terminal will enhance the handling capacity, and our efficiency for loading, cargo breakdown and cool storage will improve.’
From a forwarding perspective, the new facility will also spur on further development. ‘The new cargo terminal has enhanced the airport’s cargo handling capability significantly, and this includes advanced automation for scanning, weighing and moving air cargo as well as more cold chain options,’ says Dimerco’s Law.
‘All these benefits will improve the service quality and transit times, which will help our customers have more confidence in transferring shipments via Zhengzhou and will enable us to diversify products,’ he continued.
‘We were pleased to work with Cathay Pacific Cargo for this first flight with cargo bound for Sri Lanka and Penang, which was very successful. Dimerco and Cathay Pacific have a longstanding partnership and we look forward to continuing to work together.’
10 years of the Three Cs
News of Zhengzhou’s development and Air Hong Kong adding Chengdu to its network would have come as little surprise to Cathay Pacific’s former General Manager Cargo Sales and Marketing (and subsequent Director Cargo) James Woodrow.
In 2012, and on the back of tough trading conditions, eyes were turning to the manufacturing boom on the Chinese Mainland, especially in high-end electronic consumer goods.
Writing in Cargo Clan in 2012, Woodrow said: ‘Given the uncertainty in global markets… the only light at the end of the tunnel is a number of exciting new product launches coming up soon in the high-tech/electronics sector.’
This was particularly the case with the opening of a new Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, which was due to employ 120,000 people. One of its key products led to it acquiring its local name – iPhone City. Other Foxconn developments in the region were expected to employ 300,000 people overall.
One of Cathay Pacific Cargo’s strategies for 2012 was to develop new markets in the Three Cs. ‘Cathay Pacific are trailblazing to these new destinations that will be the trading and logistics hubs of central and western China,’ Woodrow added. ‘These are the areas where major brands such as HP, Dell and Lenovo have moved their production. Cathay Pacific has to follow the cargo.’
Charter flights to Chongqing had started in 2011. By the start of 2012, this had transformed into four scheduled flights a week, with three freighter services to Chengdu, with the final C being linked up with a twice-weekly service from Zhengzhou.
‘Our intention is to ramp up, as demand increases, to six flights per week from each location so that we can offer a seamless connection for each day’s production from Chongqing, Chengdu and Zhengzhou,’ added Woodrow. ‘We can connect the Three Cs with all parts of the world.’
Ten years on, that’s one strategy that remains in place.