Uni-top grounds fleet as it seeks new investors as part of restructure

Wuhan-based Uni-top Airlines’ fleet of freighters is currently grounded as the carrier faces financial difficulties and looks to restructure. According to Chinese business news outlet Yicai, the company has suspended all operations and has parked or returned its aircraft off lease.

The last aircraft to have stopped flying appears to have been unit 763, which flew from Kunming (KMG) to Shanghai (SHA) on Oct. 1, 2019. Unit 763 is one of six converted A300-600Fs that make up Uni-top’s fleet, along with a seventh aircraft (725, ex-China Eastern) undergoing conversion by EFW in Dresden (DRS). It is currently unclear what the fate of that frame will be, with EFW only telling Cargo Facts that the redelivery is delayed for now.

Just a year ago, things were looking quite different at Uni-top. The airline added its sixth A300-600F (741, ex-China Eastern) in October as well as its first 747-400BDSF (27071) in July. The 747F was used to launch flights between Wuhan (WUH) and Luxembourg (LUX) and Liege (LGG), but was returned off lease to Moldova-based Aerotranscargo in August 2019.

Earlier this year, Uni-top filed a Foreign Air Carrier Permit application with the US Department of Transportation for flights between WUH and Chicago (ORD) using a 747-400F. In that application, the company listed a Suparna Airlines 747-400BDSF (25207) as part of its own fleet, but that aircraft currently still appears to be flying with Suparna.

According to Yicai, Uni-top hasn’t paid many of its employees for the last few months. Additionally, during the first half of this year, all flight operations at the Shenzhen (SZX) hub were terminated, with all staff having been placed on leave since mid-May. Uni-top’s chairman said that the company is seeking new investors and has been in financing and restructuring discussions with companies including China Merchants and JD.com.

Uni-top Airlines is part of the Uni-top Group, which was founded in 1998 and is based in Shenzhen. The group is involved in four main business areas: air cargo, express, logistics parks and trade. The now-defunct Grandstar Cargo, which had a single 747-400F (26401) based in Tianjin (TSN), was also part of Uni-top. Some of Uni-top’s other business units remain operational at this point.

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