It’s express central at Tokyo’s Narita International, with DHL up front in the form of Air Hong Kong and a trio of FedEx heavies behind (looks like one MD-11F and two 777Fs). The Marroad International hotel, visible in the background, marks this scene as taking place in front of Narita’s massive cargo complex with its 20+ freighter parking positions. In addition to the express giants, Narita is served by more than twenty all-cargo airlines.
Air Hong Kong, founded in 1986, currently operates a fleet of eight A300-600Fs, all new builds delivered between 2004 and 2006, and a trio of 747-400BCFs acquired from parent company Cathay Pacific. This particular BCF, B-HOU (msn: 24925) was originally a passenger aircraft for Cathay before conversion in 2005, while the other two BCFs originally served with South African Airways before joining Cathay Pacific Cargo, and later Air Hong Kong, as freighters. Air Hong Kong also contracts with Thailand-based Transmile for some narrow-body lift (usually a 727-200F) to and from that country and recently added some additional capacity from fellow DHL partner Air Contractors in the form of an additional A300-600.
Although it is at this time unconfirmed, reliable sources have indicated to Cargo Facts that three additional A300-600Fs may soon join the Air Hong Kong fleet from Abu Dhabi-based ACMI operator Maximus Air Cargo, which placed at least two up for sale recently, and which has been having trouble finding consistent work for the freighters other than contract work from Etihad.
Formed by a combination of British and Hong Kong interests, The carrier began operations in the fall of 1988 with a former British Airways 707-336C, and expanded to three 707-320Cs a year later. 747-100SFs soon followed, joined by 747-200s in the mid 1990s after the 707s had been retired. Cathay Pacific purchased 75% of Air Hong Kong in 1994, and purchased the remaining shares in early 2002. In October of that year, Cathay and DHL formed a partnership to modernize DHL’s Asia network using Air Hong Kong’s lift – which led to the modernization of the fleet with the A300-600F. The 747-400BCFs were added in 2011. The DHL partnership saw the express company take a 40% interest in Air Hong Kong.
Air Hong Kong today serves a variety of destinations in the PRC and Japan, as well as Taipei, Incheon, Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur from its base at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport.
We will be heading to Hong Kong in April for the second annual Cargo Facts Asia conference, which will feature speakers from from the Asia-Pacific divisions of FedEx and DHL, among many others. For more information about Cargo Facts Asia or to register, visit cargofactsasia.com.