SF Express sets its sights on Europe

SF Airlines 757-200-crop.jpg

After growing its domestic service by leaps and bounds over the last few years, China’s SF Express is considering an expansion of its logistics services to Europe and a rapid increase in its freighter fleet in the next three years, according to media reports from China.

Li Dongqi, president of SF Airlines, the airfreight subsidiary SF Express, recently told the South China Morning Post that Europe was a “natural” next choice for expansion of the SF Express logistics chain. He did not provide a timetable for the venture, but did say the company would enter the European market “sooner or later.” Shenzhen-based SF Express, which provides logistics for rapidly growing e-commerce giant Alibaba, has already established overseas connections to the United States, Australia and Russia.

The company must rely on other airlines to provide capacity for these overseas shipments, but that may change soon. The SF Airlines subsidiary has a goal of nearly tripling its total fleet of cargo planes from 36 to 100 by 2018, Li said. Currently, the carrier owns 16 freighters – a mix of 757-200s and 737-300s and -400s – and operates another 20 aircraft via charter.       

Li said SF Express’ airfreight capacity is nearing 1 million tonnes annually, or about 21 percent of the total Chinese express market.  As the largest private express logistics company in China, SF Express earned 70 to 80 percent of its revenues from intra-China, B2B courier service and just 10 percent from its partnership with Alibaba – for now.

By 2018, Li told the Post that the company expects to ship 2 million tonnes of cargo per year. An increasing amount of this added volume will come from cold-chain commodities, such as pharmaceuticals, he added. 

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