Air cargo between China, US increase despite tensions
Published: May 29, 2020 09:23 PM

Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Air cargo between China and the US has entered into a fast track as major carriers in China recently announced regular cargo routes between the two top economies despite rising tensions.  

On Friday, China Southern, the largest carrier in China in terms of fleet size, said it will operate transcontinental cargo flights from Shenzhen to Chicago using a Boeing 777 three times a week. 

The first flight will leave on Sunday carrying nearly 90 tons of medical masks, temperature guns, protective clothing and other anti-epidemic supplies, the airline said.

A day earlier, a Boeing 747 cargo plane from China Eastern Airlines landed in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province carrying cherries from Los Angeles, saying Zhengzhou will be the first city in China to connect to the US for fresh food.  

China Eastern said it will fly three times a week starting June, 135 flights a year, carrying vegetables and seafood from Miami, San Diego, Mexico City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Moncton and Seattle.

"The frequency of the flights shows the cargo demand between the two countries is huge, and the demand has not been hit despite rising tensions," Lin Zhijie, an independent market watcher, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Reading from the network, it is clear that Chinese airlines have been busy looking for agricultural products around the world, including the US, Yu Zhanfu, Global Partner of the strategy consultancy Roland Berger, told the Global Times on Friday. "The move shows that Sino-US trade benefits not only China, but also the US."

American Airlines said earlier this month that it will have more cargo flights. Starting May 14, it will add another three weekly cargo flights from Beijing to Dallas/Fort Worth, operated by a Boeing 787-9. 

American Airlines had been operating cargo flights from Hong Kong and Shanghai to Los Angeles. 

In addition to medical supplies, the cargo flights also include manufacturing and automotive equipment, electronic products, fresh fruits and vegetables.

United Airlines also increased converted charter flights in May, and flies around 290 charter flights between China and the US. 

Insiders attributed the rising trend to the fact that the air regulator in China is encouraging the cargo business.

China's finance ministry said on Tuesday that it would subsidize airlines from home and abroad for cargo flights. For cargo aircraft converted from passenger planes, 80 percent of conversion costs will be subsidized.