Susan Chambers, News

Cathay Pacific Airways and the Port of Portland are expanding their freight services to Hong Kong in November, which could open new markets for west coast US seafood.

Two flights per week from Portland, Oregon are currently scheduled pending government approval.

The new Portland service would operate as part of a Hong Kong-Anchorage-Los Angeles-Portland-Anchorage-Hong Kong route every Thursday and Saturday. Cathay Pacific’s newest and biggest freighter, a Boeing 747-8F, will make the route.

The Port of Portland said the new service should benefit both large and small Oregon businesses.

Already, at least one seafood company hopes to take advantage of the new route.

“We realize that the service is currently slated for Hong Kong. We also have sales there,” Pacific Seafood international section manager Larz Malony said in a letter to the Port of Portland Monday. “We hope that we will be able to take advantage of this new service and its success will also allow expansion into some Chinese airports.”

Pacific Seafood, whose headquarters are in Clackamas, near Portland, has been a major supplier of live Dungeness crab to China for a few years, shipping as much as 1,500 metric tons a year to China and Hong Kong, Malony said in the letter.

The company had to move its live crab from its Oregon and Washington plants through SeaTac since there were no direct flights through Portland.

The timing of the expansion in November also could work well for the West Coast industry.

Dungeness crab season traditionally begins in mid-November in the San Francisco area and Dec. 1 for northern California, Oregon and Washington. Live crab sales to China have leveled or decreased a bit in the last few years, but this new service could provide access to additional markets.

Malony said in the letter he was pleased to hear about Cathay Pacific’s expansion.

Cathay Pacific Cargo’s Fresh LIFT service has special cold chain processes capability with expedited tarmac and warehouse handling,  specialized cool room and freezer temperature-controlled storage at the Hong Kong hub, and trained staff to take care of perishable freight, such as seafood.

“The importance of this new service to Portland cannot be overstated,” Phillippe Lacamp, senior vice president of Cathay Pacific, said in the release.

“The high density of technology companies, athletic and footwear manufacturers and exporting businesses in the region make it a natural extension to our existing Hong Kong-Anchorage-Los Angeles service. Cathay Pacific is in a prime position to link this economic hub of the Pacific Northwest to Hong Kong, one of the world’s key international airfreight hubs.”

Cathay Pacific Airways flies daily to Hong Kong and beyond, including more than 22 destinations in mainland China, from six cities in the U.S. and two in Canada.