Chinese passenger and all-cargo airlines have been growing at an amazing pace during the past few years. It’s almost impossible to count the actual number of Chinese carriers who fly domestically within China or on international routes. There seems to be a close cooperation between Chinese passenger operators with their cargo or express colleagues as regards supplying passenger metal for conversion into freighters. SF Express, which has their main base in Shenzhen, has firm plans to expand their fleet further.
New capital increase frees up money for freighters
SF Airlines, which is a 100% subsidiary of SF Express, already operates a fleet of 40 freighters on Chinese domestic and inner-alia regional routes. So far they operate with an all-Boeing fleet, many of which are passenger to freighter (P2F) converted aircraft. There are nineteen B757Fs, sixteen B737Fs and five B767Fs in the SF Airlines colors.
It seems however, that SF won’t stop there.
A recent stock placement by mother company, SF Express has raised around US$1.2 billion which is planned to be used for buying new aircraft as well as being invested in recruiting new pilots as well as R&D technology. Chinese media report that the company has agreed to allocate just over US$ 400 million of this amount to SF airlines in order that the e-commerce carrier can invest in new or converted P2F aircraft and increase their fleet even further. It’s no secret that SF Airlines would like to expand their overseas routes even further and that European destinations are surely on their radar.
New Western Chinese distribution centre for SF Express
Towards the end of August SF Express signed what they term as a strategic cooperation agreement with the Xinjiang Airport Group to erect a brand new warehouse at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport. The facility, which will have 10,000 sq m of handling space is said to be the first large airside cargo handling facility in Western China. The warehouse will be dedicated for the handling of express parcels only and is planned to be able to sort and handle 18,000 parcels hourly. This, according to reports, would allow a daily throughput of around 1,200 tonnes of cargo.
SF Airlines is expected to team up with China Post and then start express parcels from Urumqi Airport.
HNA gets closer to SF Express
HNA’s all cargo subsidiary Suparna Airlines has leased a B757F from SF Airlines in order to operate a new twice weekly scheduled service from Zhenzhou to Taipei. This is presently just a lease for twelve months, but it seems that both HNA and SF are planning to work closer together in the future. Slots for operations out of China are now starting to become a problem for some carriers and the cooperation between HNA and SF is seen to be geared towards enabling better slot allotments as well as trying to stave off further competition from other carriers on certain routes.
John Mc Donagh