Zhongyuan Longhao Airlines is set to become the third operator of 737-800BCF freighters in China.
The carrier has taken delivery of its first 737-800BCF (28608, ex-Air Italy) on lease from BBAM, Cargo Facts has learned [FATs 005728-005729].
Two more 737-800BCFs will be added over the next “several months,” on lease from another lessor, according to a source at the airline.
Longhao plans to open up new international routes from its growing base at Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO). Although the airline provides capacity to express companies such as SF Express and e-tailers like JD.com on an ACMI basis, initial 737-800BCF operations will be customer-neutral and are set to begin in December, Cargo Facts learned.
BBAM previously confirmed to Cargo Facts that unit 28608 is part of the order for three 737-800BCF conversions announced in February. The first conversion, recently completed by GAMECO (29052, ex-Aeromexico), is one of the three, and is currently awaiting delivery. BBAM declined to comment on its plans for that aircraft.
For now, Longhao’s maiden 737-800BCF remains at the Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company Ltd. (STAECO) facility in Jinan (TNA), where it was ferried in May and inducted for conversion shortly after that.
This year, Longhao received a $229 million capital injection from Henan Civil Aviation Development Company (HNCA), which acquired a controlling stake in Longhao in 2019, and also holds a 35% stake in Cargolux.
Longhao’s gravitation towards Henan province is clear. The carrier recently applied with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to forgo its main operational base in Guangzhou (CAN) and relocate entirely to Zhengzhou (CGO). The airline had previously used both airports as bases.
Not including the incoming 737-800BCFs, Longhao’s fleet currently comprises five 737-300Fs and one 737-400F.