On 16 October, the CAAC issued a bulletin summarizing a series of routes applied for by Shanghai-based HNA Group subsidiary, Suparna Airlines (formerly Yangtze River Express Airlines, also referred to as “Jinpeng Airlines” in Mandarin).
In line with previously announced plans, the routes aim to connect Suparna’s main gateways in China with Europe and North America using its fleet of 747Fs.
Worth thinking about, though, is that unless Suparna abandons some of its existing routes, the number of long-haul frequencies suggest that Suparna will soon take delivery of additional freighters.
A decision is expected to be taken after 23 October, the deadline for public comment. Suparna’s three new route applications include:
- From 15 November onwards, the commencement of 2x weekly 747F flights on Shanghai Pudong (PVG) – Xi’an (XIY)- Hahn (HHN) – Erdos (DSN) – Shanghai Pudong (PVG) routing.
- From 15 November, the commencement of 7x weekly 747F flights on Shanghai Pudong (PVG) – Zhengzhou (CGO) – Brussels (BRU) – Tianjin (TSN) – Shanghai Pudong (PVG) routing.
- From 1 December onwards, the commencement of 7x weekly 747F flights on Shanghai Pudong (PVG) – Zhengzhou (CGO) – Los Angeles (LAX) – Tianjin (TSN)- Shanghai Pudong (PVG) routing.
Suparna’s widebody freighter fleet currently includes three 747-400Fs, one 747-400ERF and a fifth 747-400F ACMI-leased from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings. Last month, Suparna purchased the 747-400ERF (35235, ex-ASL Airlines Belgium opf Emirates) from Aircastle, and according to flight data, has yet to put the aircraft in service. Although Suparna has made no mention of firm purchase commitments, Cargo Facts has always believed that this was the first of two ERFs Suparna is buying from Aircastle. We expect the second 747-400ERF (35236, ex-ASL Airlines opf Emirates) to join Suparna’s fleet shortly.
After maintaining a stable widebody freighter fleet for an extended period, Suparna has suddenly switched into expansion mode; the same cannot be said however, for its narowbody fleet. At the end of 2015, the carrier maintained a twenty-unit strong fleet of 737Fs, which included three 737-400Fs and seventeen 737-300Fs. Jumping ahead to the present, Suparna has winnowed its 737-300Fs to just ten units (nine of which are active), while the number of -400Fs remains unchanged, at three units. Cargo Facts believes that HNA’s new cargo airline startup Tianjin Cargo Airlines, which is slated to receive its AOC soon, may assume the bulk of Suparna’s narrowbody operations.