Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) published a list of 28 aviation projects seeking private investment. Ezhou Civil Airport and Air China Cargo were two familiar names on the project list, both of which are seeking billions of dollars in new investments.
China National Aviation Holding Co., which owns a controlling stake in Beijing-based Air China and its logistics subsidiary, Air China Cargo, is looking to sell a stake in the air logistics company that is expected to fetch around US$1.5 billion as it pursues a government-mandated “mixed-ownership” reform.
Air China Cargo will tread in the steps of Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, whose parent, China Eastern Air Holding Company (CEA Holding) began the process of divesting its cargo and logistics operations from the passenger carrier last year.
In February 2017, CEA Holding’s passenger subsidiary, China Eastern Airlines sold its Eastern Air Logistics (EAL) cargo subsidiary, which owns freighter-operator China Cargo Airlines and manages the belly space on China Eastern Airlines passenger aircraft, back to its parent, CEA Holding. CEA Holding then sold off a 45 percent stake in EAL to four companies: Legend Holdings, Global Logistics Properties, Deppon Logistics and Greenland Financial. The four companies hold 25 percent, 10 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent stakes in the company, respectively.
Returning to the CAAC’s list, of the 28 initiatives, the most ambitious by far is the Ezhou Civil Airport Project, which is seeking US$5.4 billion in private investment. Although the airport will accommodate both passenger and air cargo, Ezhou Airport is significant as it is also the future site of Shenzhen-based SF Express’ global air cargo logistics hub.
Other sectors targeted for private investment include aircraft maintenance, aviation rescue, UAV Logistics and airborne data communications.