Luxembourg-based all cargo carrier Cargolux announced plans today to double its weekly service to Budapest (BUD), increasing from three to six connections weekly. The new flights will increase available capacity between Europe and China and support Budapest (BUD) and Zhengzhou (CGO) airports’ aims to become regional hubs.
The original Hong Kong (HKG)-BUD-Luxembourg (LUX) route operated by Cargolux thrice weekly will be augmented by an additional identical frequency. Alongside the additional HKG-BUD-LUX service, the carrier will begin offering two CGO-BUD-LUX services weekly. In addition to these new services, Cargolux will move into the airport’s new “CargoCity” freight center, which is being constructed at the airport to centralize operations, expand handling capacity and upgrade e-commerce capabilities at BUD.
The Luxembourgish carrier, which began operations at BUD in 2002, and its Italian joint venture Cargolux Italia, operate a fleet of fourteen 747-8Fs and sixteen 747-400Fs. Cargolux will add three additional 747-400ERFs to its fleet this year, according to our sister publication, Cargo Facts.
The increased connections to BUD will benefit both the airline and airport as there is a growing interest for services to and from Budapest and its surrounding region, according to Cargolux Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Domenico Ceci.
Cargolux’s additional flights to BUD continues the airport’s efforts to attract carriers and increase volumes over the past two year, as part of its ongoing “BUD20:20” expansion program. The airport has a sizeable catchment zone in the Central and Eastern European region, and also serves as a transit node between Asia and Western Europe for the Chinese government’s Belt and Road initiative.
BUD’s efforts have already begun to bear fruit, as the airport reported its cargo handle was up 14.9% in 2018 for the full year, compared to the year prior, reaching 146,113 tonnes of cargo. Recently, BUD has added several new routes, hosted a delegation from China and welcomed Vienna-based logistics provider cargo-partner as a tenant at its CargoCity.
Cargolux’s addition of twice-weekly flights connecting LUX to CGO suggests the carrier is planning to further develop its operations at the growing Chinese hub airport.
Located in central China’s Henan province, CGO serves as the China hub to Cargolux and another of the carrier’s joint venture airlines, Henan Airlines – two factors that support CGO’s growing traction as a freighter hub in the Chinese cargo landscape. In 2018, CGO reported that 515,000 tonnes of cargo – 329,000 tonnes of which was international cargo – moved through the airport, a 2.4% increase over the year prior, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Last year, the airport also opened 55 international routes to cities including Seoul (ICN), Bangkok (BKK), Vancouver (YVR) and Chicago (ORD).
The Chinese government has positioned CGO to serve as a strategic node connecting China to its western neighbors, which has been further supported with the local government’s establishment of a free trade zone and processes to improve customs clearance at the airport. Additionally, CGO earned its “fifth freedom rights” last year, allowing foreign airlines to carry passenger and cargo traffic from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country (and so on).
The addition of these routes as part of Cargolux’s continuing network expansion will likely benefit volumes at CGO and BUD in their efforts to become leading regional hubs for cargo volumes between Asia and Europe.