Cathay Pacific Airways has wet-leased its first Airbus A300 freighter for all-cargo subsidiary Air Hong Kong as part of a makeover that is expected to include the addition of up to 10 widebody freighters for use on regional routes.

Industry sources say Cathay has wet-leased the A300B4 freighter (N371PC) from Express.Net Airlines for 15 months from late June. While not officially part of its wider plan for Air Hong Kong, the sources say it is a sign the carrier will almost certainly opt for A300Fs over Boeing 767Fs for the bigger overhaul.

Cathay said in April that it would refocus Air Hong Kong on intra-Asian services and transfer long-haul freighter services to its own cargo operation. Two of the three Boeing 747-200Fs leased to the subsidiary will be brought into Cathay's freighter fleet, which includes four 747-200Fs and five 747-400Fs.

From July, Air Hong Kong will stop serving Brussels, Dubai and Manchester, and instead serve Osaka in Japan and Seoul in South Korea. Cathay will add Brussels and Manchester to its own cargo network. It already flies to Dubai.

Air Hong Kong will then build its regional presence. In March Flight International revealed that Cathay planned to extend cargo services with its first regional freighters, most likely as part of it partnership with DHL, using Air Hong Kong as the vehicle. Cathay has been in talks to acquire five to 10 A300Fs or 767Fs for Air Hong Kong.

Source: Flight International