Express volume pushes Shenzhen into ‘Million Tonne Club’

This year Shenzhen’s Bao’an International Airport became the eleventh Asia-based airport to join the “Million Tonne Club,” a designation reserved for airports with an annual cargo volume of more than one million tonnes. The ten other airports to make the list have all appeared previously and, as can be seen in the chart at right, are no surprise.

Shenzhen’s ascension to the ranks however, illustrates the increasing air freight activities of Chinese express carriers. SF Airlines (the air arm of SF Express), which currently has a fleet of 28 freighters, uses Shenzhen as its main hub and has contributed significantly to the growth in the airport’s cargo volume.

In 2015 SF Airlines added eight new aircraft, including a mix of 757-200PCFs and 737-300Fs, and the carrier’s first 767-300BCF. The 767 was a milestone for China as it became the first widebody freighter operated by a privately-owned Chinese carrier. This year, SF has already added two more 757 freighters, and will continue to expand its fleet during the rest of the year and in the future.

Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport is another airport to watch, as recently launched express carrier YTO Express Airlines drives up volumes at the airport it calls home. The airline currently operates three 737-300Fs and has ten firm orders and ten commitments with Boeing for 737-800BCF passenger-to-freighter conversions. CEO Bruce Li also touted the future possibility of adding widebody freighters to YTO’s fleet as part of the airline’s international expansion plans.

Following a major announcement on March 22 that clothing manufacturer Dailian Dayang Trands Co Ltd would acquire YTO Express in a $2.7 billion asset-swap; that international expansion might not be too far off for YTO. By proxy, Dayang’s acquisition of YTO Express will result in a backdoor listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. For more information see IPO Express, our recent analysis of Chinese express companies’ rush to go public.

 If you are interested in learning more about the impact e-commerce has had on the air freight and express business in the Asia Pacific region, register now to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2016, where YTO Express Airlines Chairman David Su will speak at the event to be held 19 – 20 April, at the Langham Hotel. To register, or for more information, go to


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