Shanghai-based all-cargo carrier Yangtze River Express (YRE, a subsidiary of the Hainan Air Group) took redelivery today of a 737-400F (29915, ex-Hainan Airlines), following conversion by Aeronautical Engineers Inc, at the Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services facility at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport.
The redelivery brings YRE’s freighter fleet to a total of twenty-three units, including three 747-400BDSFs, three 737-400Fs, and seventeen 737-300Fs (of which three are QCs, operated as freighters).
Interestingly, several years ago, parent HNA Group ordered eight A330-200Fs (from lessors BOC and Aircastle), with the intention of putting five in the YRE fleet, and the other three in the fleet of Hong Kong Airlines (HKA, also an HNA subsidiary). This was part of a planned expansion of the HNA group into the international freight business, but, for reasons never explained publicly, YRE only ever took delivery of one of the proposed five, and operated that one only for a year-and-a-half before parent Hainan transferred it to HKA. Of the four originally intended for YRE, two are now in the HKA fleet (along with HKA’s original three), while BOC transferred the leases on the remaining three to Qatar Airways.
In the meantime, Yangtze River Express has continue the rapid expansion of its narrowbody freighter fleet, almost tripling it over the last five years from seven 737-300Fs in 2009 to seventeen 737-Fs and three 737-400Fs now. Given the incredible explosion of demand for express package delivery in China over the last five years, perhaps the focus on narrowbodies is understandable.