New cargo carrier to take to the sky in China

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A new cargo carrier is to be launched in China – United Star Express Airlines will serve the Chinese market and other surrounding Asian countries.

The express air cargo joint venture between Okay Airlines, ATSG West Limited, Vipshop and others totaling five parties was announced at the Fourth Annual China Air Finance Development Summit yesterday.

United Star Express Airlines is registered in Tianjin’s free trade zone (Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone), with a capital of 400 million RMB ($63 million).

It will be established pending approval by related government parties and plans to commence flight operations sometime in mid-2016.

Okay Airlines will provide the largest share of the registered capital of United Star Express. Okay Airlines chairman Wang Shusheng will be the company’s chairman. The vice chairman will be Richard Corrado, chief commercial officer of Air Transport Services Group and president of its aircraft leasing subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management.

The new airline will principally serve rapidly growing express air cargo demand driven by e-commerce growth in China and surrounding countries. From 2010 through 2014, the partners say the express market has been growing at an average of 30 per cent per year.

“Express air services in China now rely mostly on excess capacity in the belly of passenger aircraft. Fewer than 120 all-cargo freighters operate within China, and only a small portion of those serve express markets.

“The growth rate of China’s e-commerce markets exceeds that of the air express market. Therefore, United Star Express will provide third-party express and charter aircraft services that cover the country and surrounding Asia regions to domestic and international express companies,” the partners say in a statement.

The joint venture partners say gradually, the company will also add medium and long-distance cross-border express and cargo charter services that cover Europe and the Americas regions.

Within the first year of its flight operations, United Star Express expects to have six small and midsize freighter aircraft, including Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft, to “provide safe, high quality, reliable domestic and international air cargo services”.