A new all-cargo carrier in China, another to follow

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it would grant an air operator’s certificate (AOC) to Guangzhou-based China Air Cargo Corporation, unless there was a credible objection by 18 November.

In early December of last year, we reported that the CAAC had granted initial approval to the establishment of the new all-cargo carrier, a joint venture of Joy Air Holding, Guangzhou Donlinks Group, and Beijing Fuda Asset Management. Certification was expected to follow fairly quickly, but, in mid-2016, the CAAC put the approval process for new airlines on hold, partly to weed out applications from carriers trying to use the relatively easy path to all-cargo certification with the intent of switching to passenger operation following approval.

But the CAAC eventually lifted its hold, and the approval process for China Air Cargo Corp is now nearing its end. We expect the carrier to take to the skies by the end of this month (with another carrier whose approval was also stalled, taking off  shortly after, see below for more details). It will be based at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), from which it will offer both domestic and international cargo and mail service, using 757-200PCFs and Chinese-made MA600Fs.

Regarding the fleet, China Air Cargo has already taken redelivery its first freighter, a 757-200PCF (27513) following conversion by Precision Aircraft Solutions at the TAECO facility in Xiamen.  China Air Cargo acquired that aircraft, along with sister ship 27517, from Xiamen Airlines last year, and the second is in conversion with redelivery expected shortly. No details regarding future fleet plans have been announced, but we note that Xiamen Airlines has four more 757-200s.

China Air Cargo Corp was not the only company whose application for an AOC was caught up in the CAAC’s move to tighten regulations. BrightStar Express Airlines, the joint venture of Tianjin-based Okay Airways and US-based Air Transport Services Group, was expected to receive its certificate this year, but ATSG now says it is “hoping to have the airline up and flying sometime during 2017, most likely towards the third quarter.”

That comment came from ATSG’s Chief Commercial Officer Rich Corrado during a conference call following the release of the company’s third quarter earnings. During the call, he also pointed that while the AOC for BrightStar might be delayed, work on the commercial side of the jv could continue via Okay Airways. That is, while BrightStar cannot yet fly, Okay is a certified airline, with a freighter, and could take on business in the short term which it would ultimately hand over to BrightStar.

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