Taking e-commerce to new and unusual heights, two former Jade Cargo International B747-400 Freighters were sold last week on Taobao, China’s Alibaba-owned version of eBay, for CNY 322.8 million (USD49 million), to Chinese express giant SF Express.
SF Express, China’s largest private express carrier, bought the jets after three of the B747-400Fs were put up for sale online in late September by the Intermediate People’s Court in the southern city of Shenzhen, which seized them after Jade Cargo filed for bankruptcy in 2013. One of the aircraft is parked at the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport went unsold, with a starting bid of CNY 122.6 million, according to a South China Morning Post article.
The other two aircraft bought by SF Express are parked at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport which had opening bids of CNY 133.8 million and CNY 135 million respectively. The jets were eventually sold at CNY 160.8 million and CNY 162 million, up 20 per cent from the starting bids. There had been six previous attempts to sell the aircraft online and they were first put up for sale with an asking price of a combined CNY 1.3 billion.
Shenzhen-based Jade Cargo International was established in October 2004 and was co-owned by Shenzhen Airlines, which had a 51 per cent stake, Lufthansa Cargo with 25 per cent and DEG, a subsidiary of German state-owned bank KfW – with 24 per cent. The carrier started operations in August, 2006 and was the first cargo airline in China with foreign ownership.
In 25 December 2011 Jade flew its last scheduled flight, from Frankfurt (FRA) to Shanghai (PVG), via Shenyang (SHE), and a few days later officially grounded its fleet, citing a combination of lack of demand and “extended discussions” with Jade Cargo’s other owners, with the service suspension lasting for several weeks until new funding was to be found through UniTop Group, which had plans to restructure the airline. Late in May 2012, UniTop withdrew its Letter of Intent (LOI) for the restructuring plans and Jade Cargo officially announced the closure of the company and the start of liquidation proceedings.
SF Express, one of China’s largest logistics service providers controlled by billionaire Wang Wei, said earlier this year that it will spend CNY 2.7 billion to buy aircraft and recruit pilots. Its subsidiary, SF Airlines, has a fleet of 40 freighters – including five B767s, 18 B757s and 17 B737s – on Chinese domestic and regional routes. In May, the airline announced plans for a tie-up with UPS to develop international delivery services between China and the US.