December 3 - Air Charter Service's Hong Kong office has flourished in a peak season that, to many, has come as a pleasant surprise. Freight volumes moving on charters have dramatically increased since early October.
Stephen Fernandez, cargo manager ACS Hong Kong, explains: "We started receiving enquiries in the middle of September, but it wasn't until early October that they started booking the flights and the market really picked up. There was, all of a sudden, a lack of availability on B747s. At first most of the freight travelled trans-Pacific over to the States, and then the European market also saw increased demand. However, in the last week or so the USA has got a little bit quieter in the run-up to Thanksgiving, but that's to be expected".
After last year's distinct lack of peak season in the run-up to Christmas, and the general doom and gloom regarding the economy this year, this boom has come as a refreshing change.
Fernandez isn't getting carried away though: "One theory is that this is a bit of a 'faux' peak season created by capacity that has been taken out of the market by airlines parking up some of their fleets. Still, it's fuelled by demand, which can only be a good thing. How much this resurgent demand is galvanised by fewer aircraft is hard to say though".
Air Charter Service has had a record year in 2009, both in number of charters, and in revenue. It's offerings of cargo charters, private jet charter and commercial airliner charter, along with the opening of three new offices in Paris, Johannesburg and Tokyo have played their part in this year's success.
The company recently flew a large hydraulic winch and some fluid for an offshore vessel from Singapore to Port Hedland in Western Australia.
The cargo weighed more than 65 tonnes and the most difficult part of the operation was moving the consignment from the factory to the airport. This involved several flatbed trucks, a mobile crane for loading, and a police escort along the roads.
Once at the airport it was a relatively simple exercise of loading everything into the waiting AN-124 and the urgent freight touched down in Australia ahead of the original schedule, much to the customer's delight.