UK all-freighter airline Cargo First has launched a service between its Bournemouth Airport based and Chengdu Shuangliu International in China, in partnership with Shenzhen Sharing Express Logistic-Tech.
The new service is operated by European Cargo A-340 wide-bodied freighters, with a capacity of 70 tonnes.
Initially, there are three flights per week, with plans to gradually increase the frequency to five flights per week in the future as SSELT strengthens its global network.
The new route is supported by the China Council for the Promotion of National Trade and China Post, and aims to help China’s cross-border e-commerce sellers to reach the UK market. SSELT is also targeting UK exporters on return legs.
Cargo First says that with only 90 minutes from the capital, shipments can get to customer warehouses in half the time of going through a London hub airport.
Bournemouth Airport managing director Steve Gill, added: “We can save customers a lot of time in a time-sensitive market. Working with European Cargo we’ve proven Bournemouth as a viable alternative gateway to London and the South East for commercial air cargo. Cross border e-commerce continues to experience strong growth and we are seeing a lot of providers like SSELT scouting for alternatives to the London hubs because they want airports that can handle that growth into the future.”
European Cargo’s chief executive David Kerr said: “We have extensive experience of the China market and this new route from Chengu to Bournemouth establishes an exciting new trade corridor that ensures the timely delivery of e-commerce goods from south west China to UK consumers. It also creates significant opportunities for UK exports back to China and is among a range of potential routes that we are looking to grow.”
European Cargo has been converting its Airbus A340 long haul freighters with a bespoke in-cabin pod containment system to add to belly capacity. It expects up to six conversions this year with more in the pipeline in 2024, making it the largest UK-based wide-bodied carrier.
In the last few months the freighters have received certification from both EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK.