YTO Cargo Airlines has launched a route connecting Kunming (KMG), located in China’s southwest Yunnan province, to Karachi (KHI) in Pakistan with the support of Yunnan Airport Group (YAG), the airport operator that manages KMG. The route is being launched to support both regional trade from Yunnan to Pakistan and as a channel to Southeast Asia in China’s larger Belt and Road initiative.
YTO Cargo Airlines will operate the thrice–weekly flight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays using a 757F aircraft. The flight’s cargo will predominantly include cross–border e-commerce goods and fresh produce.
The move bolsters China’s third largest carrier’s recent efforts to grow its international ops. YTO Cargo Airlines recently also launched new routes to the Philippines and Uzbekistan and doubled its handling capacity out of its Hangzhou hub in preparation for future growth.
While Chinese carrier Uni-Top Airlines also operates flights out of KMG to cities in Southeast Asia, such as Mumbai (BOM) and Delhi (DEL), according to data from FlightRadar24, this is the first international all-cargo route launched from KMG by YTO Cargo Airlines since the approval of the airport and its surrounding areas as a Free Trade Zone, according to a press release issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
For YAG, the new route bolsters its bid in capturing cross–border cargo volumes as various Chinese airports vie to become major hubs in China’s broader Belt and Road Initiative.
YAG said it has now fully implemented the requirements of the “Kunming International Aviation Hub Strategic” jointly issued by the CAAC and the Yunnan Provincial Government in 2017, aimed at developing KMG as an international freight hub connecting China to South Asia and Southeast Asia through network expansion. KMG currently maintains 11 international cargo routes to cities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.