China's SF Airlines has started a weekly B767 Freighter service from Shenzhen to Singapore’s Changi Airport, the first time a Chinese express carrier has operated services between the two countries.
In a statement, Changi Airport said that China is its largest air cargo market, accounting for more than 270,000 tonnes of airfreight throughput during the 12 months ended June 2018 (an increase
of 8% over the previous 12 months).
Among the commodities transported by air are perishables and pharmaceutical products from the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asian regions, which are in high demand in China and which pass through Changi Airport from these regions to China, the statement said, noting that "The added capacity by SF Airlines marks the start of expected growth of express flows on these routes.”
Large freighter fleet
SF Airlines is the largest express airline in China by aircraft fleet and is owned by courier company Shun Feng Express (SF Express). The carrier's new Singapore services will be an extension of the Group’s business in Singapore. SF Group’s express delivery arm, SF Express, has been operating in Singapore since February 2010, and established warehousing facilities in the Changi Airfreight Centre (CAC) in September 2012.
SF Airlines operates more than 40 freighter aircraft, including 27 Boeing 757-200Fs and five 767-300Fs as well as two 747-400Fs that recently were bought from Jade Cargo International. SF Airlines also has committed to procure an unspecified number of Boeing 737-800BCFs to replace its older 737-300/-400Fs.
Continuation of freighter service is still uncertain
The weekly B767 freighter service will operate until 27 October 2018 and subsequent services will be subject to approval from the regulatory authorities.
The only operator that also flies pure freighter services on the Singapore-Shenzhen route is US-based United Parcel Service, while bellyhold capacity is provided by passenger airlines Scoot, Shenzhen Airlines and SilkAir.
In another development, SF Express has formed a joint venture with a subsidiary of railway operator China Railway Corp to develop high-speed train cargo services.
According to a report in the China Daily, China Railway Express Co Ltd, the bulk cargo delivery arm of CRC, will hold a 55% stake in CR-SF International Express Co Ltd, the new venture, while the rest will be held by an affiliate of Shenzhen-listed SF Holding.
Cargo trains to complement planes
CR-SF International Express plans to run high-speed freight trains, develop railway delivery platforms for cross-border e-commerce and establish logistics centers for storage, packaging, processing and delivery services.
The report said that China has the world's most extensive high-speed rail network, with 22,000 kilometers of track currently in use, but it is used to only transport passengers. Since 2016, they have opened it for product deliveries of goods sold via online platforms.
However, it still accounts for a very small portion of China's total cargo transport capacity, Yang Daqing, a researcher at the China Society of Logistics, was quoted as saying.
"The structure of China's delivery system has been disproportionate for a long time, while highway transportation accounts for 70%," he said, adding that cooperation can gradually improve the structure by ramping up high-speed railway's proportion.
According to China Business Journal, the revenue earned by high-speed railway deliveries accounts for only 4% of CRE's total but soared 20% in the first four months of 2018 over the same period in 2017.
Nol van Fenema