Longhao Airlines is settling into its secondary base at Zhengzhou Airport (CGO) following investment from Henan Civil Aviation Development Investment (HNCA), and is now operating under its new name, Zhongyuan Longhao Airlines.
After a period of low flight activity at the beginning of this year, the carrier is returning its fleet to service, and has begun launching new flights. Although the carrier did not add a single aircraft to its fleet in 2019, sources familiar with the carrier’s plans told Cargo Facts that Zhongyuan Longhao will consider adding two to three aircraft in 2020. No determination has been made as to which types, but with used 737 Classics becoming available in China as carriers add 737 NG freighters, additional 737Fs would not come as a surprise. Longhao’s fleet is currently comprised of five 737-300Fs and a single 737-400F.
For now, at least five of the carrier’s aircraft have operated within the past month, with most flights operating as charters for SF Express. Last month, the carrier opened a new flight between CGO and Hanoi (HAN) via Hefei (HFE). Another international flight to Osaka (KIX) is being planned. Moving ahead, the carrier plans to continue adding flights between China and Southeast Asia, and to other destinations in the Pacific region, according to a release from the Henan government in the Henan Daily.
In May of this year, HNCA and Guangdong Longhao Aviation Co., Ltd. agreed to relaunch Longhao Airlines as a joint venture under the name Zhongyuan Longhao Airlines. Rather than shuttering Longhao’s existing base at Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) airport, the JV partners agreed to establish a second base in Zhengzhou.
HNCA has long made the establishment of a local carrier a priority. In 2013, HNCA acquired a 35% stake in Cargolux and was expected to launch a JV carrier, to be based out of CGO. Though Cargolux has gradually fortified its presence at the hub under the Cargolux and Cargolux Italia AOCs, plans for a new JV carrier, Henan Cargo Airlines, have been postponed multiple times. In contrast, Longhao already possesses a Chinese AOC and with adequate backing should be able to grow its fleet.
Up until now, much of Longhao’s business has focused on operating charter flights on behalf of SF Express. With HNCA on board, however, the carrier is expected to diversify its business.