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Cathay explains new ‘Wine Lift’

Cathay Pacific’s general manager for Cargo Sales & Marketing, Mark Sutch, has explained the airline’s new “Wine Lift” programme further.

Speaking to the drinks business, Sutch explained that the new service is just the latest in Cathay’s portfolio of specialist air freight, which also includes “Fresh Lift” and “Pharma Lift”.

However, as he explained, “one thing we’d never had was anything to do with wine.” This, he continued, was strange considering that the company does ship a lot of wine over the course of a normal year.

Most of this is incidental, passengers bringing bottles with them on flights, though Cathay does organise a “Beaujolais Nouveau” lift every year.

Sutch explained that this November, “we will ship 2,000 tonnes of Beaujolais Nouveau – mostly to Japan. So we do ship a lot.”

The whole aim of Wine Lift though is as an added option for logistics providers to offer their clients as a link in the freight chain and it is not a door-to-door service.

The amount of wine shipped in one go is open to the client. Sutch explained: “A shipment could be 100 kilos to 100 tonnes if people wanted it to.

“It could go in the belly of a passenger plane or a dedicated freighter [depending on the size of the shipment]. One palette to 10, the size of the shipment doesn’t matter.”

The important features of Wine Lift, said Sutch, is that it offers temperature-controlled conditions, security and swiftness of transport.

Most wine is transported by container ship and while this is unlikely to change anytime soon, Wine Lift offers private and trade clients the choice of transporting wine all over the world quickly and in the best conditional possible.

As Sutch pointed out, Cathay flies to, “pretty much every wine producing country” (except South American ones) and has one of the most comprehensive inter-Asian services of any airline in the world.

With the distance between London and Hong Kong (for example) being 12 hours, wine shipped from the UK could be in Hong Kong in a day rather than the three to four months it takes at sea.

Prices will change depending on where the wine is being shipped from and to, as individual ports set their own prices.

Sutch added there had already been an interest from logistics firms in the service. He said: “Quite a few of the freight forwarders have been in touch and we’ve had lots of positive feedback. It’s the ninth product in the portfolio, another tool for logistics providers to go out and sell.”

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