Air China is planning to expand newly spun-off cargo unit Air China Cargo with two Boeing 747-400 Freighters and three Tupolev Tu-204-120C freighters.

The carrier was formally launched last week to take over Air China's four-strong 747-200F fleet. It will be responsible for cargo carriage on Air China group's passenger aircraft.

Air China Cargo is 51%-owned by Air China, while Hong Kong-based conglomerate CITIC Pacific holds 25% and Beijing Capital International Airport 24%.

The new unit's president, Zhang Xueren, told state-run media that Air China Cargo plans to purchase two 747-400Fs within two years. It will add the three Rolls-Royce RB211-powered Tu-204 freighters that were ordered by the Chinese government two years ago for China Southwest Airlines, the airline that Air China acquired last year.

There are three dedicated cargo airlines in the country: international operator China Cargo Airlines, owned by China Eastern Airlines and China Ocean Shipping; domestic China Postal Airlines, controlled by the Chinese postal service and China Southern Airlines; and domestic Yangtze River Express, owned by Hainan Airlines and Shanghai Airport Group.

Zhang says Air China Cargo aims to earn revenues of 4.1 billion yuan ($495 million) this year "and become one of the top 10 cargo carriers in the world by 2010".

Source: Flight International