New Sichuan airline seeks CAAC approval for cargo ops

Sichuan Double Dragon Airlines, also known as “Shuanglong” was formally established as a joint venture funded by Zhejiang Changlong Airlines, or Loong Air, and the Sichuan Airport Development Group.

Loong Air was launched as CDI Cargo Airlines in 2012 with a focus on narrowbody freighter operations. Since 2013, the airline has gradually shifted its focus to passenger operations. Double Dragon Airlines could see Loong double down on cargo.

Total capital invested in the new airline amounts to 500 million yuan, or about US$72 million, with 90% of the capital contributed by Loong Airlines.

According to local media, the new airline will apply to China’s Civil Aviation Administration for a license to carry out air cargo operations with its own aircraft. In the meantime, the carrier will ACMI-lease capacity from Loong, which currently operates three 737-300Fs.

Last year, Sichuan province landed a trio of A330-200Fs after Sichuan Airlines spun out a freighter division of its own and launched freighter services. Previously, the carrier had focused on passenger operations. The A330-200Fs are the first medium widebody freighters based in the Sichuan.

In Chengdu, the provincial capital where most of the freighters will be based, a second airport is under construction and is expected to open this year. Once operational, Chengdu’s throughput capacity will more than double. The existing airport (CTU) can handle up to 250,000 tonnes per year while Tianfu airport will be able to process an estimated 370,000 tonnes annually. Since 2017, local government agencies in Chengdu have been subsidizing carriers and shippers that utilize the hub in hopes of attracting new flights.

Apart from carriers based in mainland China, at least three other carriers operate scheduled freighter flights into Chengdu, including AirBridgeCargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo.

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