Cainiao targets Hainan free trade zone with freighter flights

By Damian Brett

Alibaba logistics arm Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has launched seven freighter flights to Hainan to meet demand following the island’s designation as a free trade zone.

The charter flights will operate between Singapore and Sanya and Haikou airports on the island. This comprises five weekly Haikou-Singapore direct flights and twice weekly Singapore-Sanya-Guangzhou flights. 

The Haikou-Singapore flights were launched on April 18, while the Singapore-Sanya-Guangzhou service started on April 25.

“Both routes aim to provide cross-border logistics services for global beauty and luxury brands to enter Hainan, and also to help export domestic e-commerce goods to Singapore, enhancing trilateral trade between Singapore, Hainan and China’s Greater Bay Area (GBA),” Cainiao said.

In the opposite direction goods such as fish fries, electronic devices and tropical fruits will be transported to Singapore.

Each flight will offer 13 tonnes of capacity. The Haikou-Singapore aircraft is a B737-400F My Indo Airlines plane operated by Cainiao. The Singapore- Sanya-Guangzhou aircraft is B737-300F Suparna Airlines jet operated by Cainiao.

Cainiao said that there had been a boom in demand for luxury products over the past year as in July last year the Chinese government tripled the annual limit for duty-free purchases to RMB100,000 ($15,500) per person, and removed a cap of RMB8,000 for any single product as part of its free-trade port plan.

The e-commerce logistics firm said that imported goods will be able to arrive in Hainan from Singapore within three hours, and be ready for sale in duty-free shops within 12 hours after clearing customs and dispatch from the warehouse.

Before these direct flights were launched, it normally takes two to three days to import goods to Hainan as they had to first land in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, before being transported to Hainan via trucks and ferries, the company claimed.

“This is our first foray into the Hainan Free Trade Zone and we have plans to launch more dedicated freight routes between Hainan and other countries to provide import and export merchants with faster, more efficient, and reliable logistics services,” said James Zhao, Cainiao’s general manager for global supply chain.

“Hainan will be a pivotal priority for Cainiao in the coming years, and we expect to open more direct cargo routes to link Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Europe to Hainan soon.”

China is positioning Hainan as a strategic free trade port, with several developments underway.

“Cainiao’s direct flights will allow businesses to leverage Hainan’s position as a major duty-free shopping hub as well as its facilities for consolidation of component products being brought in for additional work and assembly from ASEAN and beyond,” the company added.

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