Another dedicated cargo airline has started operating in China to take advantage of the rapid growth in demand for freight carriage.

Yangtze River Express, which was established by fast-expanding Hainan Airlines just over a year ago, has now taken delivery of its first dedicated cargo aircraft, a Boeing 737-300QC, and begun operating it domestically. Yangtze River Express has until now only arranged for freight to be carried in the bellyholds of Hainan Airlines' passenger aircraft.

United Parcel Service (UPS) has signed an agreement with the new airline covering the carriage of express freight between Shanghai and four other Chinese cities. Services will be phased in, eventually leading to the Chinese airline carrying UPS freight from Shanghai to Beijing, Guangzhou, Qingdao and Xiamen. The deal initially covers services on a round trip from Shanghai routed via Xiamen and Guangzhou. Services on a similar round trip via Beijing and Qingdao are expected to be added in March.

Yangtze River Express is 85%-owned by Hainan Airlines Group, 5% by Hainan Airlines itself and 10% by Shanghai Airport Group. The new carrier aims to capitalise on the rapid growth in demand for express delivery services in China, which remains in its infancy.

It is now the third dedicated freight airline in China, the others being international operator China Cargo Airlines, which is majority owned by China Eastern Airlines, and China Postal Airlines, which is part-owned by China Southern Airlines.

Source: Airline Business