China Southern adds
China Southern Airlines is planning to build and operate
Shenzhen International Airport's biggest cargo centre
with a handling capacity of 250,000 tonnes, intensifying
the competition with Hong Kong for Guangdong's burgeoning
The cargo centre, expected to begin operations next year,
would more than double Shenzhen airport's annual handling
capacity to 450,000 tonnes.
The move forms part of China Southern's strategy to boost
cargo operations before the mainland's accession to the
World Trade Organisation - using Shenzhen as its international
The carrier's existing cargo services from Shenzhen to
the United States are operating at almost 100 per cent
capacity, and it is expecting demand growth to accelerate
in the coming years.
President Yan Zhiqin said the airline would build a dedicated
cargo fleet by acquiring three more Boeing 747-400 freighters
over the next two years.
Cargo accounts for only 8 per cent of the Guangzhou-based
"Our new Shenzhen cargo centre will serve as a major
freight hub, distributing cargo collected throughout China
to the United States and other international markets,"
Mr Yan said.
China Southern is banking on the accelerating growth
in the mainland's economy and the WTO membership to create
more demand for its air freight services.
The mainland economy expanded 8.2 per cent in the first
half of the year, propelled by a 38 per cent surge in
Industrial output grew at its fastest pace in July, rising
13 per cent from the year-earlier period.
Much of the mainland's high value-added manufacturing
is in the Pearl River Delta region, and is exported through
the SAR, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
So far, much of the region's air cargo exports have gone
to Chek Lap Kok, which has an annual capacity of three
However, China Southern is hoping the lower charges at
Shenzhen will give it a larger share.
For one kilogram of cargo, the handling charge at Shenzhen
airport is 35 HK cents, compared with HK$2 at Chek Lap
Kok, China Southern said.
Landing fees, overflying fees and approaching instruction
fees at Chek Lap Kok were more than HK$70,000 per flight,
against HK$21,000 at Shenzhen, the airline said.
However, these claims were rejected by the Hong Kong
Airport Authority, which accused China Southern of distorting
"That's grossly inaccurate," Airport Authority spokesman
Chris Donnolley said.
"Airlines are notorious at bending the figures and that's
the best I've heard so far."
Mr Donnolley said the maximum charge levied by the authority
on freighter aircraft was HK$26,000 for a Boeing 747-400,
assuming a four-hour turnaround. He said landing charges
at Shenzhen were, in fact, more expensive.
According to the International Air Traffic Association,
the highest airport charges in Hong Kong were US$5,216
for a Boeing 747 passenger aircraft, compared with US$8,750
charged by the mainland's international airports.
Mark Ashall, director of sales of Hong Kong Air Cargo
Terminals, said it would be cheaper to ship cargo through
Shenzhen rather than the SAR.
However, Mr Ashall believed the greater number of flights
and the services offered at Chek Lap Kok would allow it
to retain its competitive position.