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After several years of negotiations, China Southern launched its new freighter service to Stansted at the weekend, as well as a service between Guangzhou, Paris and Vienna – both with 777-200F.
The airline will operate a twice-a-week service between Guangzhou and Stansted – the only direct maindeck lift between China and the UK – and expects to increase the service to thrice weekly later this year.
The carrier told The Loadstar it was expecting to bring garments and household electronic appliances into the UK, while the backhaul would likely consist of mail, express and milk powder.
“As the only direct freighter link between the UK and China we have confidence we will be able to fill these flights,” said Lin Yuhua, director industry and alliance for the carrier.
“Imbalance will not be an issue for this flight, because we see a very positive upward trend in eastbound air cargo traffic from the UK to China. Cargo from the UK will be sufficient to feed this flight, while we have the flexibility to truck cargo from elsewhere in the EU to the UK in case we need to.”
Manchester Airports Group (MAG), operator of Stansted, has been working hard to attract the carrier.
The timing of the launch was based on the delivery of China Southern’s new 777F. The carrier already operates direct freighter services into Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Vienna. Ms Lin added: “The bilateral trade between the UK and China in recent years has showed a very healthy trend.”
She noted that the airline had considered Heathrow, but slots were not available.
“Stansted is a cargo-friendly airport with a long-term strategy to grow the cargo business, and it has the resources to support our operation.”
China Southern has appointed Euro GSA, AIA Cargo and Globe Air Cargo as its GSAs on the flights, which will sell on a first-come first-served basis. (There is no specific allocation.) The route is CAN-STN-FRA-CAN.
China Southern is also reportedly bringing two 747-400Fs out of retirement, according to WCARN, one in July and one in August.
MAG was delighted by the carrier’s arrival. Andrew Harrison, Stansted’s managing director, said: “With spare runway capacity to support significant growth and additional economic activity, MAG‘s ambition is to develop Stansted into the premier scheduled freighter airport for the UK. The airport sits at the heart of the London-Stansted-Cambridge growth corridor, and with the region booming and London’s economic activity shifting towards the east, Stansted is ideally placed to support businesses trading internationally and looking to compete in the global market place.”