China’s SF Express Intent on Own Hub

The Shenzhen based packages and air cargo operator, SF Express is in-tent on building its own massive cargo hub in Ezhou, a relatively small city which is located not far from Wuhan.
A clever strategic choice it seems.

Unloading of one of SF Airlines‘ Boeing 757 freighter aircraft
Unloading of one of SF Airlines‘ Boeing 757 freighter aircraft

SF wants to become more independent
SF Airlines, a 100% daughter company of SF Express would be the sole carrier to utilize the new express parcels hub once finished.
This is by any means no small project which seems to become reality in the next couple of years .
Ezhou, although almost next door to the large city of Wuhan, is said to be strategically situated as a new air cargo hub.
Flying time from there to most of the Chinese main cities is not more than 2 hours and once the hub is completed will become SF Express’s main distribution hub in China offering an initial annual capacity turnover of more than 2.6 million tonnes.
This would essentially rank Ezhou as Asia’s fourth largest air cargo hub.

An Initial amount of around US$14.5 million has been earmarked for design and the gathering of partners to support this mega hub strategy.
It can be assumed that the central Chinese government will want a piece of the cake and that they will also provide further funding along with private enterprises to ensure that the hub becomes reality.


Many companies interested in jumping on the band-wagon
All of this cannot be achieved by one company alone.
Information recently released indicates that SF has put out its feelers and is looking for bidders to partner them in the development of the airport’s new cargo areas.
The tender process was meant to close at the end of February, but so far no information is being released as to who has applied.
Tender applications were meant to be geared centrally towards the erection and operation of the SF distribution centre which would by the year 2045 be able to turnover up to 7 million tonnes of cargo annually.

SF have reportedly invested in China VAST Industrial Urban Development which is a local Ezhou real-estate developer and has joined forces with them in the design of the new area as well as having them eventually oversee the construction and the airport’s future management team.

Will SF Express look at utilizing Ezhou also as a future international air cargo hub?
The company which presently has its hands full in developing and controlling its fast growing business in mainland China, surely has ambitions to move outside and into southeast Asia and eventually to Europe.

Alibaba and SF Express on one side of the globe - and Amazon’s Prime on the other side.
The global e-commerce cake is looking like a 50-50 issue between the vast entities.
Where will this leave the rest?

John Mc Donagh

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