In a filing to the US Department of Transportation dated 13 May, Shenzhen-based SF Airlines requested permission to operate scheduled cargo service three times per week between Hangzhou (HGH) and New York (JFK), for at least one year. The service would begin in September 2019, using SF’s 747 freighter capacity.
SF Airlines took delivery of its first 747-400ERF (35173) in October of last year. The freighter had been in maintenance since June, after SF won two ex-Jade Cargo 747Fs, including unit 35173, at auction on Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace in December 2017. SF’s other ex-Jade 747-400ERF (35174) appears to still be in storage at Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG). SF also ACMI-leases additional 747-400F trans-Pacific capacity from Atlas Air. There is no indication the carrier’s arrangement with Atlas will be affected by the new service, if it is approved.
Also on 13 May, SF Airlines shared in a WeChat post that it had taken redelivery of its eighth 767-300 freighter (28979, ex-TUI Airways), following that aircraft’s conversion at Boeing’s authorized conversion center at Taipei. According to the post, SF plans to use the aircraft for perishables transportation, including fresh fruits and seafood, during summer and autumn of 2019. The redelivery brings SF Airlines’ total fleet size to fifty-four freighters, including 737-300Fs and –400Fs, 747-400Fs, 757-200Fs, and 767-300Fs.
According to the DOT application, any additional fleet changes “will be made as warranted by commercial conditions.” However, last month at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, SF Express’ Vice President, George Li, said SF Airlines is planning to grow its widebody freighter fleet to more than 100 aircraft by 2022 in support of its three-tier aviation strategy.