Air France is to intensify its use of Dubai as a hub in its efforts to boost cargo traffic to Asia. The airline’s cargo traffic to the Middle East is expected to grow by 14 per cent this year, a senior company official says.

‘I don’t think we can develop more in Asia without developing the Middle East,’ deputy vice-president for cargo sales Jean-Paul Moreau said at a news conference on 3 March. Dubai, already the stop-over for all Air France flights to the Far East, is to be used as a hub for new flights to Asia. A mixed freight and passenger service from Paris via Dubai to Karachi by combi aircraft is planned to start this summer. Air France will also start an additional service to Bangkok, probably via Dubai, when it takes delivery of its 11th Boeing 747 freighter, Moreau says. The airline now flies 25-30 air freighters a week through Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

As a result of the new services, Air France’s cargo traffic to the region and Asia is expected to reach a total of 107,000 tonnes this year, 12 per cent higher than last year. The two regions together provided a quarter of its $1,000 million cargo revenue last year.