Exports have led the growth in Cathay Pacific Airways' cargo movements during the first half of this year. According to Cathay's general manager of cargo Kenny Tang, exports grew by 20 to 30 per cent during the period while imports saw single-digit growth only. He expected the export trend to grow, adding imports had picked up, but not to expected levels. 'Seasonally, the second half of the year is better and we expect this period to be good,' he said, adding that on the whole, this would be a good year for Cathay's cargo operations. In the middle of next month, the airline would take delivery of a B747-400 freighter. Two-thirds of Cathay's capacity would be used on European routes, while the rest would carry freight to and from the United States. This represented two flights a week to Europe, one to San Francisco and a regional twice-weekly service to Penang. The Hong Kong-London route would have three non-stop flights while the Hong Kong-Frankfurt service would increase to seven flights from six a week. The Hong Kong-Paris service will also benefit in terms of increased capacity. The route has two dedicated freighters plus one shared with London. Mr Tang did not see last week's launch of Dragonair's freighter service between Hong Kong and Europe as a threat. He said Hong Kong had 200 freighter services a week and Dragonair would account for only three. Dragonair, in which Cathay has a 17.79 per cent stake, has wet-leased a B747-200F from Atlas Air to start its service during this peak period for air freight. It will also fly once a week to Shanghai. Mr Tang said the pie was getting bigger and bigger and Cathay alone could not meet all the demand. Hong Kong remained the preferred gateway into the mainland. 'With the opening of China trade [when the mainland enters the World Trade Organisation], Hong Kong will benefit and the pie would become bigger,' he said. More than 70 per cent of the air cargo through Hong Kong came from the mainland. The SAR's location made it the ideal cargo hub for the southern mainland. Cathay is leasing an additional aircraft to meet demand on the trans-Pacific route during the peak months. It will further boost cargo capacity and services with two more B747-400Fs, one to be delivered in April next year and another the following September. 'These freighters will be used to increase services to Europe and the US,' Mr Tang said. Cathay flies to Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Cargo operations improved in May, when the airline moved 61,250 tonnes, bringing the year-to-date total to 296,111 tonnes, a 12.4 per cent improvement on last year. Mr Tang said Cathay Cargo News, which appears on the airline's Web site, would launch its own Web site by October to provide customers with more information. 'Ultimately, we will provide trading patterns for the industry, flight schedules, banking, trace and tracking of shipment status and supply-chain management.' Asked whether Cathay would enter the mainland market, Mr Tang said it would not fly a freighter to Shanghai just to compete. Any decision on mainland flights would be based on sound economic principles. As part of its efforts to improve services, Cathay has become the first customer to use Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals' sealed-truck services, which began this week. The service, known as SuperLink China Direct, runs from Hong Kong to Baiyun Airport. Mr Tang also said the airline had no role in deciding whether other carriers should be allowed into the SAR and so could not be responsible for blocking US airlines. He said they had unlimited flights between their home base and Hong Kong, and the question of fifth freedom rights was a separate issue. Hong Kong was already extremely competitive, with more than 60 carriers operating. Cathay and Air Hongkong had compared cargo capacity offered on major routes, Mr Tang said. It was found that Hong Kong carriers had less than 30 per cent of total cargo capacity, while in Singapore, its home carrier Singapore Airlines had more than 60 per cent, similar to Taiwan. The survey found that the Koreans had an even higher percentage of control of their freighter capacity. On this basis, he felt there was no reason to claim Cathay was unfairly dominating the local cargo market.