The Chinese company, Hong Yuan Airlines, has launched test flights between Ostend Bruges International Airport and Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport (SJW). Ostend’s CEO Marcel Buelens hopes that the service will bring a hub status.
Shijiazhuang is the capital of the coastal province of Hebei, in the North China region. It is home to over 75 million people. Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport (SJW) is being developed as a new Chinese gateway to Europe, says Mr Buelens. “Hong Yuan is also looking for a new gateway in Europe and we keep our fingers crossed. They are expected to reach a decision sometime in September.”
From Ostend, the company flies 6 times per week to SJW, through an ACMI agreement with ATC/Aerotrans. 2014 incepted Aerotrans is headquartered in Cisinau, Moldova, a land-locked country in Eastern Europe, and has its operational center in Sharjah, in the UAE. The OST service is operated with B747-400s. The maiden flight on 07AUG20 was welcomed with a water salute.
e-Commerce in the pipeline
According to Mr Buelens, Hong Yuan has ordered 4 aircraft of the same type. The initial flights have brought in general cargo, primarily Covid-19 related consignments. “It is, however, their intention to carry e-commerce as well,” says Mr Buelens.
Hong Yuan is currently also flying between Liege Airport and Nanchang 6 times per week, a service which, according to Mr Buelens, will be continued. Of these, 3 are operated by Air China and the other 3 by AirBridgeCargo.
In Ostend, the Hong Yuan flights are handled by Bcube, part of an Italian group, which opened its operations at OST in June 2019. BCube moved into the refurbished former warehouse of MK Airlines in the Apron 1 zone. Mr Buelens says that a further expansion of the Hong Yuan operation would require an extension of the current Apron 1 infrastructure.
Over the first 6 months of 2020, cargo traffic at OST grew by over 88% to 31,303 tons, especially triggered by the need for air cargo capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Marcel Schoeters in Ostend
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