More should be known next week about the shape of Cargolux China, the new joint-venture between Luxembourg-based Cargolux and its Chinese shareholder HNCA, following a board meeting on 19 January.

Zhengzhou-based HNCA (Henan Civil Aviation Development & Investment Co) acquired a 35% stake in Cargolux from the Luxembourg government in 2013, via a commercial agreement which also involved setting up the JV.

On a visit to Henan, François Bausch, Luxembourg’s minister for sustainable development and infrastructure, told newspaper Luxemburger Wort that Cargolux China could have the reverse structure, with HNCA and Zhengzhou Airport holding 65% and Cargolux 35%.

Initial assumptions in Luxembourg were that Cargolux, as a foreign entity, would be limited to a 25% stake in the JV, prompting rumours in Zhengzhou that a customer, such as Taiwan-owned electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn, could get directly involved.

Mr Bausch told the paper that Henan Province had won a derogation to avert the requirement for a third-party 10% shareholder.

“That’s better for Cargolux. Another partner on board would certainly want to exert influence,” he said.

The minister added that, after recruiting local pilots, Cargolux China could launch commercial operations in the first quarter of 2017.

Quoting Cargolux chairman Paul Helminger, Luxemburger Wort reports that the carrier is ready to invest $75m in setting up Cargolux China. This is understood to comprise $25m in cash plus shareholder loans of almost $50m. In its early years, the JV could expect Chinese subsidies worth up to $700m, Mr Helminger said.

It has apparently not yet been decided whether Cargolux China will operate B747-400s or new freighters on initial routes within China and to neighbouring Asian markets.

Cargolux would not confirm any of these details ahead of next week’s board meeting.

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