Yesterday, SF Airlines and the Hubei provincial government signed a cooperation agreement that will advance the “Hubei International Logistics Key Hub Project,” or in other words, China’s first Memphis. Hubei officially pledged its support of the project and will cooperate with the rapidly growing express carrier to jointly plan, construct and operate Ezhou Airport—which the government expects will become the first express-focused “professional cargo airport” in Asia.
SF Express earlier announced plans to develop a greenfield site in the central-Chinese city of Ezhou (near the provincial capital, Wuhan) into what it believes could become the world’s fourth busiest cargo airport by 2045. This project is more than just an all-cargo airport, as it is modeled on the global hubs of today’s largest express carriers, FedEx, UPS and DHL. Alongside the airport hub, SF Express will build out its surface logistics and sortation infrastructure to seamlessly connect parcels moving into, within and out of China. By 2025, Ezhou Airport is planned to have annual throughput capacity of more than 2.6 million tonnes. Twenty years later in 2045, if expansion options are executed, capacity could swell to 7.6 million tonnes.
Although Ezhou Airport is being built primarily as an air express hub, it will benefit from the existence of, and direct road and air feeder links to, Wuhan’s Tianhe Airport, less than 100 km away from Ezhou. Just this week, two carriers announced the launch of new international freighter routes to Europe, and North America from Wuhan, and more are expected.
It is no secret that SF’s airline subsidiary SF Airlines, has widebody ambitions. It recently acquired two ex-Jade Cargo 747-400Fs that will soon join SF’s growing fleet, which now includes forty-one freighters and six passenger aircraft awaiting conversion. If SF Express expects to fully-utilize the capacity of Ezhou however, it will need many more freighters either in its own fleet, or in its partner fleets.
As for the ownership structure, it has been revealed that three parties will inject a combined US$756 million to get the Ezhou Airport operating. An estimated 49% of the investment will come from the provinces’ own Hebei Transportation Investment Group, with SF Express Co, Ltd covering 46% of the project. The Airport investment arm of the Shenzhen Agricultural Bank will fund the remaining 5%.
The planning phase of Ezhou Airport is said to be nearly complete, and construction is expected to begin soon.
Interested in learning more about China’s growing express market, or SF Express’ Ezhou Airport project? We are pleased to announce that Chung Mak, Vice Commanding Officer Aerotropolis Project, and Aviation Adviser to President at S.F. Express Co. LTD will participate in a fireside chat at Cargo Facts Asia 2018. The event will be held 23-25 April 2018 at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com.