CGO welcomes Zhongzhou Airlines, serves as launching point for new freighter operations

Today, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) approved the establishment of a new Chinese cargo carrier, Zhongzhou Airlines Co., Ltd., that will be based out of Zhengzhou Airport (CGO). The airport, which also serves as Cargolux’s China hub, is gaining traction as a freighter hub in the Chinese cargo landscape.

Zhongzhou Airlines is a joint-venture between Chinese freight-forwarder Henan Zhongzhou Tengfei International Freight Forwarding Co., Ltd. and Zhongzhou Airlines. The carrier will launch with a capital expenditure of Rmb 600 million (US$89.3 million), of which airline directors Yang Zhan and Shengli Song will each contribute 30 percent; Henan Zhongzhou Tengfei International Freight Forwarding will invest the remaining 40 percent.

The all-cargo airline will use 737 freighters and is approved to fly domestic routes in China, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as international routes. The airline has already hired 14 pilots and four licensed dispatchers, and expects to hire 11 more crew members and three captains soon.

Located in Central China, Zhengzhou is gaining recognition for its strategic location connecting China to its neighbors and its rapid development of CGO and its surrounding multimodal infrastructure. The local government has also established a free trade zone and processes to improve customs clearance at CGO, which also recently earned its “fifth freedom rights” allowing foreign airlines to carry passenger and cargo traffic from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country (and so on).

In August 2018, Volga-Dnepr signed an agreement with Henan Airport Group and Zhongyuan Asset Management to form a “trans-Siberian air bridge” as part of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.” Alexey Isaikin, president of Volga-Dnepr said at the time that “the potential advantages of Zhengzhou were obvious to us right from the beginning, notably its advantageous geographical location and the existence of the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Comprehensive Experimental Zone.”

Other cargo carriers flying to CGO include, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Hong Kong Airlines, SF Airlines, UPS Airlines, and Suparna Airlines, which plans to increase flights to the airport this year.

Beyond Zhengzhou’s rise as a cargo hotspot amidst vying contenders, Chinese airports serving as the base for domestic airlines launching freighter operations could be a new trend.

In May 2018, Sichuan Airlines also announced plans to launch its own freighter operation from its base in Chengdu (CTU) – an airport also attracting global carriers and integrators . Sichuan Airlines said it plans to introduce three A330-200Fs in the first months of 2019, and will later give priority to the commercial operation of international routes.

Throughout 2019, we will likely see increased expansion of flight networks in China. The question remains as to which airports will dominate the market share.

Those interested in learning more about opportunities for freighter operations in China are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.