China's SF Airlines has launched a twice weekly freighter service linking Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Almaty in
It will be the airline’s first dedicated freighter service directly connecting China to Kazakhstan and the second international all-cargo air route launched by Xinjiang following the launch of service between Urumqi and Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan in May.
SF Airlines, the aviation branch of China's express giant SF Express, will serve the new route with a B757-200 freighter with a maximum capacity of 28 tonnes.
News agency Xinhua said in a report that Xinjiang, China's northwest doorway to Central and West Asia, sits along the ancient Silk Road. As China revives the ancient trade route, Xinjiang turns from a remote border region into a forefront for international logistics services.
In the first half of this year, around 73,500 tonnes of cargo and mail were transported through Diwopu International Airport in Urumqi, up 12% year on year.
In October last year, SF Express concluded an ACMI contract with Atlas Air for a 747 freighter service on the trans-Pacific lane. The company also filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate scheduled cargo service three times per week between Hangzhou and New York for at least one year starting in September, using its own 747 freighter capacity.
Is SF’s JV with UPS at stake?
A report by market research firm, Logistics Trends & Insights, headed by Cathy Morrow Roberson, recently queried if the ACMI developments with Atlas Air would affect SF Express' joint venture with UPS which was established in 2017. The agreement with UPS called for the development and provision of international delivery services initially from China to the U.S., with expansion plans for other destinations.
Eyeing additional supply chain services
Besides its partnership with UPS, SF Express also has a deal with DHL’s supply chain group in China, which it acquired in late 2018.
The research report quoted SF’s chairman Wang Wei as saying that the agreement will help the company “grow further internationally” and “provide supply chain services to a diverse realm of industries.” It will also help SF diversify into a new income source, because its core express delivery business is coming under intense competition.
As of March 2019, SF Airlines owned a fleet of 55 freighters, which includes one Boeing 747, eight Boeing 767s, 29 Boeing 757s and 17 Boeing 737s. According to SF Express’ vice president, George Li, the airline is planning to grow its wide-body freighter fleet to more than 100 aircraft by 2022.
According to its annual report, total air cargo volume handled in 2018 was approximately 1,238 million tonnes.
Nol van Fenema