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Cathay Pacific Cargo Service Ties Hong Kong to Pittsburgh

September 29, 2020

New international all-cargo service touched down Monday at Pittsburgh International Airport, the latest step in the airport’s increased focus on cargo during the pandemic.

Typically, the Cathay Pacific Airways Boeing 777-300ER would be carrying more than 300 passengers. But on this occasion, the aircraft was filled with cargo.

Cathay Pacific flight CX8800 touched down at 9:45 a.m., arriving from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, after a stop in Hong Kong. The flight is the first of 20 scheduled cargo flights operated by Hong Kong-based Cathay in partnership with freight forwarder Unique Logistics International.

The decision to operate out of Pittsburgh International was simple, said Fred Ruggiero, Cathay Pacific’s vice president of cargo, Americas.

“It’s easy to get in and out of the airport,” Ruggiero said. “Other airports are congested; it could take a whole day for a trucking company to pick up freight. In Pittsburgh, everything can be done within three hours. It’s a matter of time and ease.”

“You need to have the runways, the facilities and the cargo handlers in place, and Pittsburgh has that. We couldn’t bring in a Boeing 777 or other large aircraft to a smaller airport. PIT is kind of ready-made to operate a flight like this.” – Fred Ruggiero, Cathay Pacific vice president of cargo, Americas

Within hours of landing, 3,500 boxes of consumer goods will be offloaded from the aircraft and placed onto trucks heading for distribution centers along the East Coast, Southeast and Midwest.

Pittsburgh’s location is also ideal, said Marc Schlossberg, executive vice president of Unique Logistics, the freight forwarder that coordinates cargo transports from shipper to consumer.

“Pittsburgh sits within a 24-hour drive of about two-thirds of the U.S. population,” Schlossberg said.

“You also need to have the runways, the facilities and the cargo handlers in place, and Pittsburgh has that. We couldn’t bring in a Boeing 777 or other large aircraft to a smaller airport. PIT is kind of ready-made to operate a flight like this.”

For Pittsburgh International, the new service is the latest development in the goal of transforming the airport’s cargo facility into an international logistics center.

“Pittsburgh’s history is as a hub for transportation and logistics. We continue to have that industry as a core part of our economy, which is why I’m proud to welcome Cathay Pacific and Unique Logistics to our expanding air cargo portfolio,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We know now, more than ever, how important it is to move products around the world quickly and efficiently, and we look forward to both companies expanding their business in Pittsburgh. Air cargo has a direct impact on jobs, from those unloading the planes to the trucking companies taking the products to their destinations.”

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded PIT an $18.69 million BUILD grant to support the construction of a 75,000-square-foot cargo processing facility and an adjacent surface parking lot to expand air cargo operations.

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