JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce retailer, has partnered with Tianjin Air Cargo, a unit of HNA Group, to ship goods on dedicated B737 freighters as the e-commerce giant ramps up its logistics business.
The new service, which launches today, will fly six round trips a week and using dedicated B737 freighters branded with the JD Logistics logo. The e-commerce company said transportation and delivery between Tianjin (TSN) and Guangzhou (CAN) will be faster than previously when it relied on shared aircraft and ground transportation.
With more, dedicated capacity, JD will be able to continue its unparalleled service of delivering orders same- or next-day, nationwide, it says. The aircraft will also be used for JD’s growing logistics business, which includes business-to-business transportation and individual parcel delivery throughout China.
Until now the e-commerce group has relied on moving freight in the belly holds of passenger aircraft. “The use of an all-cargo aircraft in air freight is more reliable than the common alternative of bellyhold capacity on civil passenger airlines because flight times can be adjusted according to industry demand, as opposed to having to comply with commercial airline schedules,” JD.com notes.
Earlier this year in March, JD.com and the HNA Group entered into a ‘Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement’ which fuelled speculation that JD.com was moving towards dedicated freight capacity.
JD and Tianjin Air Cargo will be looking closely at how to expand the new service, with further routes planned between Northern and Southern China. Tianjin Air Cargo currently operates three B737Fs – one leased B737-300F and two ex-Suparna Airlines B737-400Fs – but has said it plans to build its fleet up to between 50-100 aircraft within the next few years.
“The addition of freight by dedicated cargo aircraft brings the strength of JD’s nationwide logistics network to even greater heights,” says Hui Wang, head of the Express Business Unit at JD Logistics.
“We look forward to expanding our relationship with Tianjin Air Cargo in the coming months and we are sure that the resulting expedited delivery speeds will be welcomed by individual consumers as well as the businesses we work with as part of our Retail as a Service strategy.”
“This new service sets a new industry milestone,” adds Yi Zhang, chairman & president of Tianjin Air Cargo. “The combination of Tianjin Cargo’s breadth of experience in freight and JD’s expertise in supply chain makes this partnership a force to be reckoned with.“
“As China’s largest retailer, online or offline, JD’s resources across the e-commerce and logistics industry will be of great assistance to our company’s development going forward,” Yi says.
The partnership is the latest move by JD to ramp up its abilities to open its technology and infrastructure to other companies and industries, part of its ‘Retail as a Service’, or RaaS, strategy.
JD offers a guarantee of same, or next day delivery for 90 per cent of orders and taps a wide variety of delivery methods to get goods to customers in that time, including drones, freight trains, unmanned delivery vehicles and high-speed rail.