A new cargo airline in China is ready for launching under the trade name of “United Star Express Airlines” and will initially provide services for the growing e-commerce industry within China and the surrounding Asian countries, but has global ambitions.

The new cargo airline is is a joint venture between Chinese carrier Okay Airline, US-based lessor and transport provider ATSG West Limited and online discount retailer Vipshop Holdings. Unir
United Star Express Airlines is registered in Tianjin’s free trade zone and will have a starting capital of us$ 63 million. It will be launched in mid-2016 subject pending approval by related government parties and plans to commence flight operations.

Okay Airlines will provide the largest share of the registered capital of United Star Express. Wang Shusheng Okay Airlines chairman will be the company’s chairman. The vice chairman will be Richard Corrado, chief commercial officer of Air Transport Services Group and president of its aircraft leasing subsidiary Cargo Aircraft Management.

“Okay Airlines and the other Sino-foreign parties also will contribute to the joint venture their individual strengths and resources in airline operational management, international management, market development, government resources, and financial support,” it said.

Beijing-headquartered Okay Airline is China’s first private-sector airline and operates more than 100 domestic and international flights, while ATSG West Limited is a provider of aircraft leasing and air cargo transportation and related services to domestic and foreign air carriers.

ATSG reckoned the Chinese express market had been growing at an average of 30% per year. “The growth rate of China’s e-commerce markets exceeds that of the air express market,” the partners said in a statement. “Therefore, United Star Express will provide third-party express and charter aircraft services that cover the country and surrounding Asia regions to domestic and international express companies.”

Within the first year of its flight operations, United Star Express expects to have six small and midsize freighter aircraft, including Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft, to “provide safe, high quality, reliable domestic and international air cargo services”.

For the first year of operations the new airline will utilise six small and midsize freighter aircraft including Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 aircraft.

“United Star Express will be a new company that possesses its own airline operating certificate and will operate independently in accordance with international standards, with its own independent airline insignia, fleet, routes and organization,” the partners said.

United Air Express is not the only cargo airline in the process of being launched as UK-based Cargologicair, headed up by Dmitry Grishin from Ruslan and majority owned by Volga-Dnepr Group president Alexey Isaikin, is hoping to start up operations. Sources say the airline will provide third-party services.