Maiden flight for YTO Express Airlines

New Chinese carrier YTO Express Airlines has made its maiden flight and been confirmed as the launch customer for Boeing 737-800 freighter conversion programme.
Hangzhou-based airline, which is 90% owned by YTO Express, is one of a number of airlines hoping to capitalise on the growth of e-commerce and express delivery in the country.
The maiden flight was carried out by a B737-300 aircraft on September 26 between Hangzhou and Chengdu.
The express airline has a total of three B737-300s, with the second and third aircraft set to be put into commercial operation in November and December.
The new airline hopes its launch will help open up the e-commerce industry to Hangzhou and the wider Zhejiang province.
It is also hoped the move will help establish Hangzhou as a regional courier and logistics hub.
YTO Express becomes the third Chinese express company to also own and operate an airline, joining China Post and SF Express.
Meanwhile, the airline has also signed an agreement to become the launch customer for Boeing 737-800BCF freighter conversion programme.
The deal for 15 conversions was signed by of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group senior vice president Stanley Deal and YTO group chairman Wei Jiao Yu on September 23 during a visit to Seattle by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Deal said the development of the aviation market in China driven by e-commerce was central to the development of the world’s civil aviation market.
Jiao said that the express market in China had now exceeded that of the US to become the largest in the world, but the number of all-cargo aircraft owned by companies active in the country was less than 100, while FedEx owns more than 600 aircraft on its own.
YTO said the B737-800BCF offered several advantages over B737-300/400 freighters; they are younger, there is more of them, they offer a higher maximum payload, have a larger range and better fuel economy.
The airline was issued an operating license in June. YTO holds a 90% share with two individuals taking a total of 10%. It has a registered capital of Y400m.
Meanwhile, in May, major e-commerce firm Alibaba Group bought a stake in YTO.
YTO Express Airlines is not the only new carrier targeting the Chinese market to hit the headlines over recent days.
Cargolux today provided more details on its new Chinese JV airline, while last week it was announced that United Air Express would launch in 2016.

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