SF Express Airlines opens new hub at Shanghai Pudong

SF Airlines has recently begun serving domestic destinations in China with 757-200PCFs.

Following the recent termination of CAAC restrictions which had for months blocked Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) from launching new flights, SF Express Airlines seized the opportunity to bring China’s most populous city into its rapidly expanding air freight network. A new 25,000 sq. meter airside terminal will allow SF to connect its expansive ground facilities located throughout Shanghai to its domestic air network.

Sources familiar with the arrangement tell Cargo Facts that planning for the facility has been in the works since the Shanghai Airport Authority and SF Express Airlines signed a cooperative strategic agreement last year. Eight new routes will connect PVG to tier-1 Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Beijing, Chengdu, with 757F and 767F aircraft. Future plans include international connections.

SF could be drawn to PVG for a number of reasons, foremost of which Cargo Facts believes, is PVG’s unparalleled international interlining capabilities. As SF Express Airlines’ parent, SF Express continues to go global, and PVGs direct flights to 248 cities in 49 countries must be attractive. A recent jv with UPS could also factor into the equation, as the global integrator also maintains a major hub at PVG.

Shanghai Pudong could also represent a pivot away from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) where SF’s rapidly-growing rival, Alibaba-affiliate YTO Express Airlines, is developing a major presence. A recent spat between Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao and SF Express over data sharing illustrated Cainiao’s ability to re-route parcel traffic to different couriers on a whim.  SF Airlines currently serves 17 domestic cities from Hangzhou, which is a short 200km away from PVG. YTO Express operates fewer flights from the Xiaoshan, but that is expected to change as it takes redelivery of converted freighters (for fleet plans, see here).

As for SF Express Airlines fleet, its parent company recently filled its coffers with a very successful IPO, and SF’s Chairman is eager grow the airline’s 38-unit freighter fleet.  Cargo Facts expects SF Airlines to make public new aircraft conversion orders in the near future. In the meantime, Cargo Facts believes that two 757-200s (29423, 29425, both ex-American Airlines) now in conversion  by Precision Aircraft Solutions at the Flightstar facility in Jacksonville are destined for SF. These aircraft are likely part of a larger tranche of conversion orders, but SF Express Airlines declined to comment at this time.

Those interested in learning more about existing and future freighter-conversion programs, are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Symposium, to be held  3-4 October at the Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s South Beach. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactssymposium.com

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