Another Chinese Cargo Hub in the Planning

It seems that there is no stopping the Chinese aviation expansion.
This also applies to air cargo and the development of present and future air freight handling hubs.

Will the terra-cotta army soon be guarding HNA’s new hub?
Will the terra-cotta army soon be guarding HNA’s new hub?

Zhengzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and now a new Chinese Memphis?
The latest air cargo hub planning lies in Xi’an in north central China, home to one of China’s main touristic attractions, the famous terracotta army which was put together to watch over the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shihuang, when he passed away in 210 B.C.

But, why set up an air freight hub there?
This is being firmly planned by the large Hainan Aviation group (HNA) who don’t want to be left out of the air cargo development scene.

The air cargo expansion in China, especially in the e-commerce sector has given rise to a number of new carriers specializing in the consolidation and transportation of small packages throughout China and parts of South East Asia.
These include YTO Express and SF Express who are fast expanding their aircraft fleets to cope with future demand.
The same, it seems, goes for new cargo hubs outside of those on the Chinese east coast such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

HNA forms a new Xi’an subsidiary
HNA Modern Logistics Group is the name of the new company which HNA Group have formed in Xi’an to plan, promote and build a new super cargo hub there.
Chinese media reports state that Xi’an under the HNA Modern Logistics flag is to be developed as another international gateway for long haul cargo flights to the United States on the one side and Europe on the other.
Yangtze River Airlines which is a 100% HNA daughter company, has already added Xi’an airport as an intermediate landing on their regular Shanghai to Amsterdam and Shanghai to Chicago flights.
It is worth noting that  the HNA Aviation Group already oversees a large mixed freighter fleet of their own, being operated by Yangtze River and Hong Kong Cargo. On top of this, the group still has an order with Boeing for the delivery of six B777Fs, which they claim they will honour.

Subsidies are probably part of the game
So - is Xi’an being planned as the main HNA freighter fleet base?
It could well be the case.
However, there’s another angle to this move - and that is “subsidies.”
The Chinese government is offering attractive subsidies which are related to their so called “One Belt, One Road” policy for promoting airports further inland and in the far west of China. These apply when Chinese companies invest in other airport infrastructures and form new companies there.
More importantly though - is that the HNA Group with its present takeover and investment policy in the aviation sector, will not want to be seen as being left out of managing and controlling its own central air cargo hub in this vast country.

John Mc Donagh

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