China Cargo Airlines puts the pain aside to open new routes

CHINA Cargo Airlines is looking to expand its freighter route network, despite the current woes and overcapacity affecting the Chinese airfreight market. The carrier has applied for a number of new cargo routes after adding Tianjin as a stopover on its European routes in April.

Derek Chen, vice-president of Shanghai-based China Cargo Airlines said, “new route openings could happen within the year or next”. He admitted, however, that the exact timing and nature of these routes would be dictated by the prevailing economic conditions.

Tianjin has been growing in importance regarding cargo exports and the carrier is believed to be considering adding the city as a stop-over on its flights to Dallas and Chicago.

China Cargo has now decided to focus on special cargo, including dangerous goods, live and fresh food and other perishables, and automobiles and parts. It has already chosen at least 15 companies specialising in dangerous goods to work with it in long-term cooperation.

According to Chen, China Cargo has managed to maintain its capacity operating six MD-11 freighters despite the global economic troubles. However, China Eastern sold them for $46 million each last year when it badly needed the cash and so now they are being operated on a lease basis.

Meanwhile, the joint venture cross-Strait flights operated by parent China Eastern and Taiwan’s China Airlines has been gathering pace since its launch in December.

The airlines both believe that the prospects for this trade lane is especially positive and traffic is rapidly increasing on the services.

There are also rumours that China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines are set to merge. Both carriers operate identical routes and made heavy losses last year, so a merger would reduce competition and more efficiently use available resources.

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