"PDX secures twice-weekly freight flights to Beijing on Air China Cargo"
Air China Cargo will launch Oregon's first direct flight to China later this month, opening the door to increased trade with the once-closed country that is becoming a force in the global economy. (this article jacked from todays The Oregonian online edition)
PDX secures twice-weekly freight flights to Beijing on Air China Cargo
Air China Cargo will launch Oregon's first direct flight to China later this month, opening the door to increased trade with the once-closed country that is becoming a force in the global economy.
The airline will begin direct freight flights on a Boeing 747 freighter from Portland International Airport to Beijing starting Oct. 27, the company said Tuesday.
Port of Portland officials expect the twice-weekly flights to be full of cargo. But excitement about the announcement focused more on the future than the present. China's economic output and appetite for foreign goods are expected to grow as the country more fully integrates itself into the global economy.
The flights will enhance the Port's standing as an international freight hub, experts say.
Portland is small compared with the other U.S. cities that Air China serves with direct flights: Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. But the cargo carrier chose Oregon after receiving assurances from Nike that it would use the flights to transport shoe parts to Asian factories.
State officials are hoping the flights provide a boost in exports to China, which received almost 2,000 metric tons of air freight from Oregon in 2001 and is the state's third largest air export market.
"In the midst of some difficult economic times, this is very, very good news," Gov. John Kitzhaber said at a news conference announcing the flights at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden.
The flights will leave Portland on Sundays and Thursdays, stopping in Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles before returning to Portland.
The full planes leaving Portland will contain mostly goods from Los Angeles. Of each flight's 100,000 pounds of freight, about 30 percent will come from Oregon, said Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland.
"They're obviously coming here because they know they could fly out with a full payload," said Steve Akre, president of OIA Global Logistics, a Portland freight forwarder that helped recruit Air China.
Akre said Oregon companies will save money by cutting down on costs of sending freight by ground to airports in Washington or California.
"With this service, there's no trucking," he said. "It reduces time by a day or two, and it's less handling."
Although many local manufacturers send products and components to China, Nike led the drive for a direct flight. Nike manufactures "air bags" for its Air sneakers in Beaverton and ships between 10 million and 15 million of them to its Asian partner factories every month, said Dave Hill, Nike's manufacturing logistics manager.
"We operate on a very tight schedule, and having even two or even one day cut off of that time frame can be very critical to our business," Hill said.
Akre, whose company is Nike's freight forwarder, said the sneaker-maker, which also ships through other Asian routes, could fill both weekly flights with its shoe parts if needed. But other companies also want space on the China flights.
"We don't want it to be called the Nike express," Akre said.
Nike's demand, apparently, was large enough to sway Air China. Other than some marketing support, the Port did not provide incentives for it to serve the Portland market, said Elisa Dozono, a Port spokeswoman.
Dr. Wing Kun Tam, a representative of Air China Cargo, said that if needed, the company would add a third weekly flight from Portland to China.
Although the flights from Portland will be full, Akre noted there's even more pent-up demand for imports from China into the United States.
The Port has been trying to recruit a direct China flight for about two years. Attempts to lure China Southern airline were unsuccessful.
Air China showed "more immediate interest" in Portland, and the Port is no longer trying to recruit China Southern, Wyatt said.
Although Portland is rolling out the red carpet in an attempt to attract passenger carrier Lufthansa German Airlines, it has a better shot at becoming an international air freight hub, said Richard Gritta, a University of Portland business professor and aviation expert.
"It's tough to attract the kind of passenger traffic you need away from San Francisco and Seattle," Gritta said. "But we have a good port for shipping. You can disperse traffic to rail and motor carriers more easily out of our port than Seattle because of the congestion they have up there."
The Port of Seattle runs three flights a week to China, but none is direct. They stop in Anchorage, Alaska, for refueling, spokesman Bob Parker said.
"As an airport, we are very much stretched for cargo space," Parker said. "We don't handle as much cargo as the market could demand."
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