Grounded cargo carrier Great Wall Airlines has undergone a dramatic change of ownership, which the Shanghai-based joint venture hopes will pave the way for it to escape US trade sanctions and relaunch operations.

Great Wall Industries has already transferred its 51% shareholding in the airline to Beijing Aerospace Satellite Applications, says Great Wall Airlines. Beijing Aerospace Satellite Applications is reportedly involved in China's space programme.

Great Wall Airlines launched in May, but abruptly closed in August when the US Treasury Department imposed trade sanctions against Great Wall Industries and related companies, claiming it had sold missile technology to Iran. Great Wall Airlines says Beijing Aerospace Satellite Applications is completely independent from Great Wall Industries.

Even though the carrier is no longer linked to Great Wall Industries, it says it has no plan to change its name, and is now working to resume operations.

"We still face US sanctions," says the airline, but as soon as the sanctions are lifted the carrier's two Boeing 747-400 Freighters leased from SIA will "immediately" return to Shanghai. It says it plans to resume services to Amsterdam and Seoul and also operate to India and Singapore.

Great Wall Boeing 747 
©Philippe Noret/
 Great Wall hopes the ownership change will help it return to the air

Source: Flight International