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As we pointed out in a recent post about the proposed launch of two new long-haul freighter operators, the failure of several all-cargo carriers in 2011 does not appear to have deterred new entrants into the main-deck freight business. This week we have further proof, as Hangzhou-based CDI Cargo Airlines says it has acquired three 737-300s, and will launch service from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (100 km southwest of Shanghai) following conversion of the aircraft to freighter configuration. Cargo Facts believes the three are 737-300s (25891, 27372, 27518) currently in the Air China fleet. No announcement has been made regarding the source of the conversions.
CDI said on its website that it would initially operate the 737 freighters on “domestic and surrounding routes” (presumably targeting Japan and/or Korea), but that it also planned to acquire widebody freighters for long-haul operation from a Hangzhou hub. CDI appears to be a joint venture of two Chinese companies (holding 51% and 24%, respectively) and two foreign companies (15% and 10%, respectively), and says it has been approved for operation by the Civil Aviation Authority of China.
Regarding the planned widebody freighters, the company’s website offers an interesting glimpse into the future. Prominent at the top of the home page is the photo at right. Now, since CDI doesn’t have any large freighters yet, this is obviously a mock-up of what it expects at sometime in the future. Or is it? We’ll make this a contest with the usual prize of coffee and a doughnut for the first person to identify the “freighter” in the picture.