SF Airlines yesterday launched a new two-times weekly freighter service linking Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Almaty in Kazakhstan.
The service follows closely on the heals of SF Airlines’ launch of freighter services between Urumqi and Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan in May and this now makes it the second international all-cargo service out of Xinjiang.
The maindeck service operated by SF Airlines, the aviation branch of China’s express giant SF Express, utilises B757-200F aircraft with a maximum loading capacity of 28 tonnes.
In the first half of this year, around 73,500 tonnes of cargo and mail were transported through Diwopu International Airport (URC) in Urumqi, up 11.98 per cent year-on-year.
The opening of the new air route will make it more convenient for Xinjiang enterprises to go global and boost local economy and industrial development, said Wan Xiang, general manager of a local logistics company.
Xinjiang, China’s northwest gateway to Central and West Asia, sits along the ancient Silk Road and as China moves to reinvigorate the trade route, Xinjiang is being turned into a hub for international logistics services. The region is also under the spotlight for alleged ill-treatment of the Muslim population, including forced detention of at least one million in ‘re-education’ camps.
Meanwhile, SF Airlines has applied to the US Department of Transportation to launch a scheduled freighter service between its Hangzhou hub and New York.
The carrier is aiming to launch the three-times per week service in September 2019 utilising one of its two ex-Jade B747-400Fs which it purchased through through an online auction on the Alibaba-owned website, Taobao, in 2017.
Last September the carrier announced an agreement with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings for the ACMI operation of a B747-400 Freighter on behalf of the Chinese express airline.
At the time SF said Atlas Air would operate the aircraft on behalf of SF Express on key global routes across the fast-growing transpacific market, connecting China with the US from October 2018.
The carrier is also building a multi-modal cargo airport in Ezhou, Hubei Province with an expected throughput of 2.45 million tonnes of cargo and one million passengers by 2025. In 2045, it is expected to handle 7.65 million tonnes of cargo and 15 million passengers. The Ezhou Airport will begin construction in the near future, and will be completed around 2020.
Currently the airline has a fleet of 53 aircraft including B737-300Fs, B737-400Fs, B737-800Fs, B747-400Fs, B757-200Fs and B767-300Fs. Its primary hub is located in Shenzhen’s Bao’an International Airport (SZX) while it also has hubs in Hangzhou (HGH) and Beijing (PEK).