Etihad Cargo has operated its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Ezhou Huahu Airport.
The carrier’s Boeing 777-200 freighter arrived in Ezhou on August 18, making Etihad Cargo the first international airline to operate flights to the airport.
Etihad Cargo’s expansion to Ezhou Huahu Airport follows the carrier’s announcement that it has expanded its reciprocal block space agreement with SF Airlines to increase cargo capacity between China and the rest of the world via Etihad Cargo’s hub in Abu Dhabi.
This partnership has given Etihad Cargo’s partners and customers greater accessibility to 25 domestic Chinese destinations, including Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Nanjing. SF Airlines benefits from Etihad Cargo’s global network for its express product.
Ezhou Huahu Airport is located in the Hubei Province of China, and was developed as Asia’s first and the world’s fourth professional cargo airport.
Equipped with a 23,000 square metre cargo terminal and a 700,000 square metre freight transit centre, the airport serves as a gateway for air trade between China and the rest of the world.
The airport is expected to open 10 international cargo routes and 50 domestic routes by 2025, with an annual cargo and mail throughput of 2.45 million tonnes.
Leonard Rodrigues, head of revenue management, fleet and network at Etihad Cargo, said: “Offering connectivity to China’s five national-level city clusters via railway, waterway, expressway, and air transportation infrastructure, Ezhou Huahu Airport is the region’s first dedicated, professional cargo airport.
“The commencement of a weekly freighter service between Abu Dhabi and Ezhou opens up new interline opportunities with Etihad Cargo’s partner SF Airlines and will enable the carrier to further expand its reach into the Chinese market, which is a key region to the airline and Etihad Cargo’s customers and partners.
“The state-of-the-art facilities and smart technology available in the airport represent the future of air cargo, and Etihad Cargo is fully committed to achieving mutual growth and strengthening ties between the UAE and China, building on the success of this new route.”
Robert Zhang, commercial director of SF Airlines, said: “Congratulations to SF’s partner Etihad Cargo on its inaugural flight to Ezhou Huahu Airport.
“By being centrally located in China, the airport has the advantage of connecting to most of the tier-one cities in China within a two-hour flight. Ezhou Huahu Airport provides comprehensive services, including but not limited to a fast-handling sorting centre, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and an international cargo terminal. Ezhou Huahu Airport strongly supports SF’s domestic and international operations.
“By growing with Ezhou Huahu Airport, we believe it will bring more opportunities and value to the cooperation between SF Airlines and Etihad Cargo.”
Luo Guowei, party secretary and chairman of Hubei International Logistics Airport Co. Ltd., said: “We are delighted to witness the inaugural launch of Etihad Cargo’s freighter flight to Ezhou Huahu Airport, marking the commencement of freighter services between Abu Dhabi and Ezhou.
“As a major national productivity project and a gateway for air trade between China and the rest of world, Ezhou Huahu Airport stands as the first professional cargo hub airport in Asia and the fourth of its kind in the world.
“The introduction of a weekly freighter service between Abu Dhabi and Ezhou will play an important role in promoting seamless connectivity between China and countries and regions along the ‘Belt and Road’. We extend our gratitude to Etihad Cargo for their invaluable support in realising Ezhou Huahu Airport’s vision to become a world-class air cargo hub and look forward to collaborating with Etihad Cargo to further promote shared prosperity and enhanced trade exchange along the ‘Belt and Road’, while promoting the development of the Ezhou-Abu Dhabi dual hub.”
Etihad Cargo states the addition of Ezhou to its network is the latest step in the carrier’s ongoing commitment to the Chinese market, and will enable it to meet increased demand for cargo capacity out of China and cement the carrier’s position as the air cargo partner of choice in this key region.