Cathay Cargo now offers intermodal shipments into the Greater Bay Area via the Cathay Cargo Terminal Dongguan

The bonded transfer by ship between HKIA and the Cathay Cargo Terminal in Dongguan gives direct access to one of the Chinese Mainland’s biggest consumer markets

Cathay Cargo has opened upinbound shipments to the Greater Bay Area (GBA) using its direct intermodal links by sea between a secure area at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and the HKIA Logistics Park in Dongguan. There, shipments are received by the Cathay Cargo Terminal Dongguan facility.

Cathay Cargo was previously the first carrier to offer customers in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) direct intermodal links for upstream cargo acceptance, allowing flight-ready exports to be accepted and built up in Dongguan, then transported directly to HKIA under agreement with the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK).

The reverse process is now fully operational for imports into the big consumer market of the GBA. In the export model, shipments have been screened for security, built up and accepted as cargo for flights at the HKIA Logistics Park in Dongguan, before being loaded on to ships and sailed to a secured area at HKIA without the need for shipments to be broken down. Now, in the import model, shipments can be taken on their pallets or in their ULDs direct from airside at Hong Kong International Airport to the Cathay Cargo Terminal in Dongguan by boat.

Forwarder Dimerco Express Group, working on behalf of shipper WPG Holdings, became the first agent to use the intermodal import process in December 2023 for a consignment of electrical parts from Singapore. Later in January 2024, Cathay Cargo also delivered another trial shipment for Dimerco, again of electrical parts, this time from Bangkok to Dongguan via the airline’s Hong Kong hub intermodal operation.

A new option

According to Eddie Law, General Manager at Dimerco Hong Kong, the only option previously would have been for the shipment to pass through the Cathay Cargo Terminal at HKIA before completing its journey to a bonded warehouse in Dongguan by truck. ‘The new intermodal process saved a full day of transit time and at a low cost, which made our customer very happy,’ he says. ‘We were excited to partner with Cathay Cargo on the successful pilot of this new air-sea solution to Dongguan via Hong Kong.’

Dimerco’s shipment being loaded at Dongguan for its trip to Hong Kong International Airport
Dimerco’s shipment being loaded at Dongguan for its trip to Hong Kong International Airport

Developing imports into the GBA is one of Cathay Cargo’s objectives for 2024. The GBA is already one of the main regions where global e-commerce is manufactured and sourced, which has led to an imbalance between imports and exports and underplays the GBA’s significance as a consumer market.

Cathay Cargo Director Tom Owen is excited by the opportunity this new development offers. ‘The GBA is a rapidly expanding consumer market, and we can expect high-quality perishables, such as seafood, fruits, and jet fresh vegetables, for example, taking advantage of this seamless service for imports in future as the vessels become equipped to carry our specialist solution containers.’

The ability to carry security-screened and palletised containers will help shippers and forwarders avoid potential land border delays and the need to break down containers for truck transfer.

Dimerco has also noted other benefits to the intermodal journey. ‘The intermodal processes provide greater flexibility in terms of route planning and capacity utilisation,’ says Law. ‘We are able to switch to an alternate mode anytime if one mode of transportation experiences delays or capacity constraints. This allows us to avoid disruptions and ensure timely delivery. When we talk about environmental sustainability, the intermodal route can reduce carbon emissions. Implementing sustainable shipping practices is a key company goal for Dimerco in 2024.’

Owen added: ‘We are now able to provide our customers with a stable and cost-effective alternative option for imports into the GBA. Cathay Cargo will continue to work closely with AAHK and Hong Kong and Chinese Mainland Customs to further streamline the clearance process, strengthening Hong Kong as the leading air-cargo logistics hub and key connection gateway into the Chinese Mainland.’