China's air express carriers are not only rapidly expanding their high-density domestic networks, but increasingly also launching cross-border services to Asian and other international destinations.
Shanghai-based YTO Express last week announced its fourth international cargo service when its B757-200F started service from Changsha Huanghua International Airport to Manila, the Philippines.
YTO said it will initially operate the Changsha-Manila service three times a week and will increase the frequency based on market demand.
YTO currently has four international freighter services, including Tianjin-Central Asia, Zhengzhou-Tokyo, Changsha-Dhaka, and Changsha-Manila.
Trans-Pac flights coming soon
This month, China's largest express operator, Shenzhen-based SF Express will launch trans-Pacific services with a leased (ACMI) 747-400F from Atlas Air. Although city pairs have not been announced at press time, insiders assume that the flights will connect China’s East Coast with the Los Angeles-metro area. The carrier has deployed 767-300BCFs on international routes before and last year purchased two ex-Jade Cargo 747Fs. One of the aircraft is currently at GAMECO’s maintenance facility in Guangzhou, while the second unit remains in storage at Shanghai's Pudong airport.
Next newcomer taking to the sky
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based freight forwarder Janco Holdings Ltd announced an ACMI-lease of an A300-600F from Uzbekistan-based Silk Road Cargo to launch its own-controlled cargo airline, Hub Airways, which will carry e-commerce products between mainland China and several points in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, Janco chartered a 737-300F operated by SF Airlines for three weekly roundtrip flights between Dhaka and Nanning. Earlier, Janco also booked belly-hold capacity on low-cost carriers such as Thailand's Lion Air to carry e-commerce shipments and perishables. Janco said it is looking to add a second freighter next year.
New cargo airlines appear almost weekly
Last month, Guangzhou-based Longhao Airlines became the latest Chinese carrier to start scheduled international freighter services with the launch of three-times weekly 737-300F flights between Xi’an Xianyang Airport in Central China and Hanoi Noi Bai Airport in Vietnam.
Earlier this year, Wuhan-based Uni-Top Airlines started twice-weekly A300-600F flights between Kunming and Hanoi, while YTO Cargo Airlines and SF Airlines are also evaluating new destinations in Central Asia and Southeast Asia from Central Western China.
Nol van Fenema