HNA increases ties with SF Airlines

An SF Airlines 757-200F like this one is now in operation for Suparna Airlines. Photo: Shimin Gu Wikmedia

Hainan Group (HNA) subsidiary carrier Suparna Airlines (formerly known as Yangtze River Airlines) ACMI-leased a 757-200PCF from SF Airlines, and launched twice-weekly scheduled service between Zhengzhou and Taipei.

The lease is for just one year, but, given that demand has long outstripped capacity at SF Express’ air arm, why would it reduce capacity by leasing out one of its freighters to another airline at all? According to a report from the Civil Aviation Authority of China’s news site, the two carriers teamed up to “overcome the difficulty of applying for take-off and landing slots,” and to counter growing competition from other carriers on traffic moving across the straits.

In other words, as well as being flown by an SF Airlines crew, the freighter will likely be carrying SF Express cargo, on a route SF would have had trouble acquiring rights for. This comes as no surprise – SF Airlines’ Zhengzhou operations are limited to 737F flights to domestic destinations within China, while Suparna, which has long carried freight on behalf of China’s express companies, already operates flights from Zhengzhou to international destinations in both Europe and North America with its three 747-400BDSFs.

Although Suparna Airlines does not currently operate any 757 freighters of its own, Cargo Facts expects the airline to begin adding them to its fleet in the near future, in line with previously outlined fleet expansion plans. In addition to the three 747-400BDSFs and the recently-leased 757-200PCF, Suparna also operates three 737-400Fs and fourteen 737-300Fs, and ACMI-leases a 747-400F from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.

In related news, SF Airlines took redelivery of a Precision-converted 757-200F with winglets (25623, ex-Mega Global Air), bringing the total number of freighters in its fleet to 40 – at least temporarily, before the deal with Suparna. This is the first winglet-equipped 757 freighter to be redelivered in China. Precision has redelivered winglet-equipped 757s elsewhere, but has now received Civil Aviation Authority of China approval to do so in China.

To hear more from both Precision and SF, join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 2 – 4 October, where Precision CEO Gary Warner, and SF Express Americas General Manager Patrick Frith, will be speaking. To register, or for more information, go to CargoFactsSymposium.com.

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