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Cathay Pacific sending planes to Australia for storage during pandemic

An Airbus A350-900. Cathay Pacific will store some planes in dry climates. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific Airways (OTCUS: CPCAY) is sending part of its fleet overseas to ride out the coronavirus pandemic in drier locations where weather conditions are more forgiving than in humid Hong Kong.

About one-third of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon aircraft will be sent to locations with drier conditions in the coming months to help keep them in optimal condition, Ronald Lam, chief customer and commercial officer, said in the August edition of the company’s cargo newsletter.

Cathay Dragon is the Cathay Group’s regional airline. The two airlines are operating at about 10% of capacity in August because of weak travel demand, global border restrictions and tighter quarantine measures for people arriving in Hong Kong in an effort to contain an outbreak in the city.

Cathay aircraft are currently parked at Hong Kong International Airport in remote bays, on taxiways and in other available areas, a spokesperson told FreightWaves.

“We will be using Alice Springs in Australia for the first batch of aircraft and are in discussions with facilities in other suitable locations,” the company representative said in an email.

Alice Springs is a remote desert area in Australia’s northern territory, halfway between Darwin and Adelaide.  Desert locations are popular places for keeping mothballed aircraft. 

The airline’s storage schedule is subject to change if travel demand picks up. The planes being stored come from different fleets and will be parked outside of Hong Kong for different durations. 

Earlier this year, Lufthansa Airlines flew decommissioned Airbus plans to Teruel, Spain, because of the sunny conditions there. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch. CONTACT: [email protected]


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]