Cathay Pacific Airways will be forced to operate a smaller freighter fleet for several months next year because of delays in the delivery and the need to transfer four aircraft to a new cargo joint venture in Shanghai. The carrier will seek compensation from the manufacturer and talks will be held at an appropriate time, a Cathay spokesman said. 'We are naturally disappointed by the delay but pleased that we now have clarity on the revised delivery schedule,' the spokesman said. The recent delay of the Boeing 747-8F, of which Cathay has ordered 10, will probably give rise to a small reduction in its cargo capacity from May to July, the spokesman said. The carrier has planned to take delivery of six freighters next year. It is obliged to transfer four B747-400BCF to the cargo joint venture with Air China in the first half of next year, resulting in a net decrease in Cathay's freighter operation. The magnitude of the reduction will largely depend on when the venture gets the final approval from the mainland government. The first BCF has been taken out from Cathay's fleet and repainted in the joint venture's colour and registration. Cathay expected to take delivery of the first five of six 747-8Fs from January but the first freighter would not arrive until August, an executive from Cathay said. 'All of the six freighters next year would be delivered by September and come in quite a rush,' the executive said. 'It is fortunate that the freighters would be ready for the peak season starting in October.' The 747-8F can carry up to 134 tonnes of cargo, compared with 90 tonnes by the B747BCF. Boeing last week announced the latest delay of the 747-8F and postponed the first delivery to the middle of next year. The freighter has received 76 orders from worldwide clients with Cargolux as the launch customer. The delay was due to a low-frequency vibration in certain flight conditions, which will lead to disruptions to certification testing. But the manufacturer stressed that the problem is not a structural one and is confident of the delivery schedule next year. In order to resolve the expected shortfall in the freighter fleet, Cathay is looking for short-term leases. The carrier does not want to commit to long-term leasing contracts because of the big increase in capacity expected from the freighter fleet from 2012. However, the short-term leasing rate would be higher than normal leasing contracts. The delay of the 747-8F also would cause a spur in demand and jack up leasing rates for freighters in the short term, market observers said. In addition to leasing from the market, Cathay will also bring forward planned maintenance of freighters and increase aircraft utilisation to maintain the cargo schedule next year. Shares in Cathay rose 3.8 per cent to close at HK$21.85 yesterday.