Airlines enhance strategic partnership to increase cargo transport with China
Published: Dec 29, 2021 08:15 PM
An Etihad Airways airplane Photo: Courtesy of Etihad Airways

An Etihad Airways airplane Photo: Courtesy of Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Henan Province Airport Group, the parent company of the Zhengzhou Xinzheng Airport — an important domestic aviation hub and the gateway to the central region of China — are aiming to establish a strategic partnership to strengthen aviation ties between the UAE and China. 

This follows the signing of a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the virtual "Zhengzhou Week" event hosted by Expo 2020 Dubai China Pavilion starting from Monday.

The MOU contains plans for Etihad's potential operation of regular cargo services between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport to create the "Air Silk Road" between Henan Province and the emirate of Abu Dhabi. 

The MOU also covers scope of cooperation between the two parties to build the Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport into an air freight hub in the region, and to diversify product sales and cargo distribution channels at Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Etihad Cargo has operated 1,042 flights out of Shanghai and Beijing, carrying over 65,000-ton goods on its Boeing 777 freighters and passenger freighters, among which 50 percent of the flights were carrying medical supplies to support the global fight against COVID-19 and equip frontline medical professionals.

Since 2020, the Wuhan Tianhe airport in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province has resumed all-cargo regular routes to Liege and Chicago, and opened regular cargo routes to Los Angeles, San Diego and Frankfurt. The number of international regular cargo routes operating out of Wuhan has increased to 16, reaching 17 international destinations.

On December 1, Ethiopian Airlines flight carried 1.02 million doses of China produced COVID-19 vaccine from Wuhan to San Diego via Addis Ababa. This is the first scheduled flight for the export of domestic vaccines guaranteed by Wuhan Tianhe airport, marking Wuhan opening a new channel for domestically-made vaccines to be transported to Latin America by air.

Dong Zhiyi, an official from Civil Aviation Administration of China said in September that China has been improving the network construction of aviation hub along the "Air Silk Road." Currently, China has signed air transport agreements with 103 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative route, and maintained air services with 53 countries. The number of flights with countries along the route accounted for 65.9 percent of China's total flights.

China's international transport sector saw marked expansion in the first 11 months this year, according to the country's transport ministry.

During the measured period, the number of international cargo flights increased by 25.8 percent year on year to 74,000, and the international road freight volume hit 42 million tons, according to the Ministry of Transport.