China’s third-largest express delivery company, YTO Express Airlines, has formally announced plans to introduce at least three widebody freighters into its fleet by 2018 as it prepares to expand its presence beyond its home market, according to a report from China Aviation Daily.
YTO Airlines’ parent company, YTO Express, operates a robust ground delivery network, with more than 82 transit centers and 32,000 vehicles in over 100 cities. However, with the boom in online shopping, the company last year launched its own air arm, YTO Express Airlines, which has been scrambling to add freighters. While currently the carrier flies mostly within mainland China, YTO said it plans to submit its “supplementary international operations” application to the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration by the end of August.
YTO Airlines currently operates three 737-300Fs (pictured) and charters five additional freighters, in addition to utilizing belly space on domestic passenger aircraft. In February, the company placed a firm launch order for ten 737-800 converted freighter from Boeing, with options for 10 more. The first of these will not be available until 2018, but YTO will continue to add 737 Classics to its fleet, and reportedly hopes to operate eight aircraft in its own livery by the end of this year.
YTO Express Chairman Yu Weijiao said the company’s first target for international expansion will be to pursue the emerging e-commerce market for Chinese goods. “There is growing demand for fast and efficient international express services between Chinese manufacturers and foreign buyers, especially in emerging markets such as Africa, the Middle East and South America,” added Yu.
This year, YTO opened branch offices in Russia, Zimbabwe, Japan and South Korea, and is planning to open warehouse and transit centers in at least four other countries by year’s end.