Two privately owned carriers in China are preparing to launch domestic freighter operations using Boeing 737-300Fs.

Tianjin-based Okay Airways is negotiating to lease three Boeing 737-300Fs and aims to launch operations in “September or November”, says a source at the airline. “For the cargo service we may co-operate with FedEx,” says the source, adding that negotiations with Korean Air (KAL) on cargo have so far failed to result in a deal.

KAL announced last year that it was negotiating with Okay Airways to establish a cargo airline in China in joint venture partnership. Okay Airways launched passenger operations in March last year using a Boeing 737-900 leased from KAL, which is about to be returned. This month Okay Airways is taking delivery of the first of two 737-800 passenger aircraft it has agreed to lease from International Lease Finance.

Meanwhile, Shenzhen-based East Pacific Airlines, formerly known as Jetwin Air Cargo, has bought two 737-300 passenger aircraft from China Eastern Airlines and next month these will enter conversion to freighters, says chief executive Zhou Yongda.

The aircraft will be completed in time for East Pacific to start freighter operations “at the beginning of August”, says Zhou who confirms East Pacific Airlines will only operate domestically to begin with and it is still applying for its Chinese air operator’s certificate.

Jetwin Air Cargo changed its name to East Pacific Airlines in keeping with the name of its major owner East Pacific Group and in addition next year it plans to launch domestic passenger services, says Zhou, adding that it is currently evaluating aircraft types for the passenger operation.

Source: Flight International