Carrier opts for fuel-efficient craft

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2006, 12:00am


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CARGOLUX OF Luxembourg is one of two airlines to place firm orders for the Boeing 747-8 Freighter.

Boeing claims the high-capacity aircraft offers the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large freighter on the market.

Cargolux ordered 10 aircraft and Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan ordered eight. The Luxembourg carrier will add the first 747-8 Freighter to its all-Boeing fleet of 747 freighters in the third quarter of 2009, followed by Nippon Cargo in the fourth quarter. The combined list price value of the two orders is about US$5 billion.

The Boeing 747-8 had been on the drawing board for a long time. Cargolux finally decided to place an order when fuel costs soared.

Kevin Shek Ka-ming, director of sales and marketing, Asia-Pacific, Cargolux Airlines International, said: 'Because fuel prices have gone so high lately, it has really become costly to fly - even the 747-400s. It was necessary to find a more fuel-efficient craft.'

The decision to go with Boeing was a foregone conclusion.

'We have an all-747 fleet, so it is natural for us to stay with Boeing, as this will be more efficient,' Mr Shek said. 'It is the first time a freighter version of a craft is coming out before the passenger version.'

Cargolux is still undecided whether to phase out its fleet of 747-400s, which number 14. 'It depends on the market,' Mr Shek said. 'They are relatively young - just six or seven years old.'

Mr Shek did not think the recently announced merger between Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair would have an adverse effect on the company.

'The impact will be mostly on the domestic Chinese market. We also fly out of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen [to Europe], but we cannot carry domestic traffic [within China], so we don't see it as too much of a threat. The Chinese market is so big. There is enough pie for everyone.'

Cargolux has been flying to Hong Kong since 1972. It has three non-stop flights a week to Barcelona, Spain, three to Budapest, Hungary, and one to Helsinki, Finland. All the flights continue on to Luxembourg. The airline also has six non-stop flights a week to Luxembourg.

Besides Hong Kong and the three cities in the mainland, Cargolux also links Singapore, Komatsu (Japan), Kuala Lumpur, Madras, Seoul and Taipei with Europe.

'Hong Kong is our hub for southern China. But we don't rule out expansion to other cities in the mainland. It all comes down to traffic rights,' Mr Shek said.