Cathay Pacific Cargo has shipped some 120 million highly in-demand rapid antigen test (RAT) kits to Hong Kong and other destinations – both on and off its network – as territories worldwide start to reopen their borders.
This has included around 20 million RATs for use in Hong Kong, and other shipments across the South East and South West Pacific and beyond – around 100 million to date this year, in addition to other vital medical equipment. This work includes an ongoing run of nine freighter charters to Auckland in New Zealand, an off-network cargo only passenger flight to Darwin in Australia, and a passenger freighter flight to Perth which was the city’s first Boeing 777 flight in many years – with more to follow.
‘In February, RAT kits accounted for around 25 per cent of our cargo uplift from China,’ said Jenny He, Regional Head of Cargo Chinese Mainland.
That is all the more remarkable given the challenges of working through highly restrictive pandemic precautions, particularly at Shanghai Pudong Airport. At Pudong, restrictions for workers include closed loop rosters which involve staying in an airport hotel and being bussed airside for a set number of days for work, followed by seven days of centralised isolation at a special facility and then a further seven days in home quarantine.
On the ramp, teams have to wear full PPE and work in all weathers, in shifts with more than four hours between water and toilet breaks. ‘It means that there is a shortage of ground handling manpower which creates operational challenges, including loading constraints. We have a lot to address to ensure all cargo is shipped in a timely manner,’ said He.
But the results speak for themselves. ‘We are enormously grateful to our teams in the Chinese Mainland who have worked really hard and shown a real can-do attitude to help ensure we are able to ship these incredibly important cargoes,’ said George Edmunds, GM Cargo Commercial.
‘As we move to the next stage of the pandemic, vaccines, antivirals and test kits will provide communities with the tools to live with COVID and relax pandemic restrictions,’ added Edmunds. ‘Cathay Pacific Cargo has carried many of these cargoes already and will continue to do so. We are delighted to have played such an important role in enabling the communities we serve to move forward on their post-pandemic journeys.’