Guest Editorial: Twenty Five Years of Air Cargo in Asia

Looking back at those 25 years, the beginning was comprised mostly of charter flights operations, with several restrictions. From the Cargolux side the area has been served since 1970, when the company was founded, first by its Canadair CL-44s, and as of 1973 by itsDC-8 freighters (phased out in 1984). At that time, Hong Kong […]


air cargo industry Asian gateways Cargolux DC-8 freighters Payload Asia Ulrich Ogiermann


Looking back at those 25 years, the beginning was comprised mostly of charter flights operations, with several restrictions. From the Cargolux side the area has been served since 1970, when the company was founded, first by its Canadair CL-44s, and as of 1973 by itsDC-8 freighters (phased out in 1984).

At that time, Hong Kong was served 8-10 times a week, and the cargo was distributed from there throughout Asia. As of 1979, Cargolux’s B747-200F were introduced when frequencies out of Hong Kong were reduced, based on non-scheduled rights. This led to the application of additional traffic rights and other Asian gateways were added, including Taipei, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, and as of 1985 Fukuoka, replaced later by Komatsu. Since 1993, all services have been operated by the company’s B747-400 freighters.

Looking at the traffic right situation in Asia during the early years, we were only able to operate f ights out of Hong Kong if the scheduled carriers had full flights and applications had to be submitted to the Hong Kong aviation authorities for every flight. During the difficult years, 1982/1983, the authorities wanted to restrict the ‘charter operators’, mainly Cargolux and Martinair, but with the support of the HKG Shippers’ Council we managed to negotiate tonnage restrictions (per flight) in order to maintain presence in Hong Kong. In June 1998 Hong Kong SAR and Luxembourg signed the air services agreement, and Cargolux finally became a scheduled carrier, leading to strong growth in the HKG freight market, from twice a week in 1997 to twice daily at its peak times in 2007.