Wuhan-based Uni-Top Airlines acquired a 747-400BDSF (25207, ex-Suparna Airlines) [FAT 005100]. The aircraft transfer surfaced in a recent application for a Foreign Air Carrier Permit filed with the US Department of Transportation.
In its application, Uni-Top requested permission to operate flights between Wuhan (WUH) and Chicago (ORD) via Anchorage (ANC) with a “747-400F.” Until recently, however, Uni-Top had no owned 747-400Fs in its active fleet. Apart from ACMI-leased capacity, such as the 747-400F (26558) operated by Moldova-based Aerotrans Cargo on Uni-Top’s behalf, the carrier previously owned just one 747-400F (26401, ex Grandstar Cargo). The former Grandstar aircraft has been sitting idle at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) since 2011. While the aircraft could take to the skies again, lengthy maintenance would likely be required.
The carrier now lists two 747-400Fs in its owned fleet, including the ex-Suparna aircraft (25207), which indicates that the beleaguered HNA-affiliate Suparna now has one fewer 747-400BDSF. As of this week, however, the aircraft was still operating as Suparna (Yangtze River Express Airlines), suggesting that for now, a CMI or ACMI agreement between Suparna and Uni-Top Airlines exists. Apart from the 747-400BDSF now owned by Uni-Top, Suparna’s fleet, until recently, comprised of a 747-400ERF and two other 747-400BDSFs. The second BDSF (28282) appears to be in maintenance, while the third (28283) is still active. Suparna’s 747-400ERF (35235), does not appear to have flown since 1 July, and also appears to be in maintenance.
Uni-Top, meanwhile, plans to continue expanding its freighter fleet. Today the carrier has an active fleet of six A300-600Fs and a 747-400BDSF which is supplemented with ACMI-leased capacity. Recent development plans have called for the introduction of six additional aircraft per year from 2021-2023 to grow its fleet to at least 34 units by 2023, though no further fleet plans have been revealed.