Starting next year, Luxembourg-based Cargolux will launch an ambitious global strategy out of its hub at the Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport. Dirk Reich, president and CEO of Cargolux Group, explained that the cargo airline’s soon-to-launch Chinese JV (Cargolux China) would initially focus on the trans-Pacific and intra-Asia routes before pivoting to a global reach.
Cargolux China is a joint venture of Cargolux Group and Henan Civil Aviation and Investment Co., each owning 35 percent. Other shareholders are Xin Gang Investment & Development Co., Ltd., of Zhengzhou Airport Comprehensive Economic Experimental Zone and the Henan Airport Group Co., Ltd.
In January 2016, Cargolux Group approved a US$77 million investment in the JV, with the remaining $143 coming from its Chinese partners. The new airline which will be based in Zhengzhou is expected to be fully operational by late 2017 and regulatory approval is already being sought from China’s civil aviation authority. The JV all-cargo airline will start with three 747-8 freighters, and there are plans to add another two 747Fs as the routes develop.
Speaking at Air Cargo China 2016 in Shanghai, Reich explained that, “the margins in air cargo are under severe pressure, and if you want to survive in this market, you cannot continue to do what you have always done.”
The news coincides with the group’s announcement that the combined operations of Luxembourg-based Cargolux and its Italian subsidiary, Cargolux Italia has already carried over 100,000-tonnes through Zhengzhou after only two years in service. By 2020, Cargolux anticipates this volume to double.
Currently, Cargolux China operates seven freighter flights a week between Zhengzhou and Luxembourg, as well as several direct weekly services from China to Milan, Chicago, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The airline also operates more than 100 weekly flights into China, Hong Kong and Taipei.