Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao plans to quadruple international charter flight bookings to an estimated 1,260 flights over the next nine months as part of a series of investments totaling $140 million (RMB 1 billion) aimed at reducing average delivery times for its cross-border shipments.
Cainiao expects the increased reliance on own-controlled charter flights to shorten average delivery times for expedited cross-border orders to between three to five days, down from the current seven to ten days, according to Lin Wan, CEO of Cainiao, during comments made at the company’s Global Smart Logistics Summit presented virtually June 23.
During the last calendar year, Cainiao chartered 260 flights using a mix of carrier partners, including Aviastar-Tu, El Al, YTO Cargo Airlines, and more recently Atlas Air. This month, Cainiao launched regular charter flights to Latin America. The flights, operated by Atlas Air now connect Hong Kong (HKG) and destinations in Brazil and Chile on a twice-weekly basis.
Liege Airport (LGG), where Cainiao is constructing a 220,00-square-meter facility, has emerged as another hub for charter flight activity. In response to burgeoning demand for medical supplies related to the COVID-19 crisis, Cainiao recently added five weekly charter flights to LGG. Cainiao’s Liege facility is expected to commence operations next year.
Cainiao maintains agreements with multiple air service providers but could not immediately comment on the planned charter routes, or identify the operators.
In addition to the investments in charter flights, the company also committed to adding 1 million square meters of international warehousing space over the next three years to facilitate better forward-stocking for export orders. Today, Cainiao has 1 million square meters of warehousing space outside of mainland China.