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Chinese e-commerce logistics company Zongteng inaugurates Paris air route’s private airline expands shuttle service in China

Officials participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the arrival in Paris of the first YunExpress flight from China. (Photo: Maxime Letertre @Groupe ADP)

Zongteng Group, a large China-based provider of cross-border warehousing and logistics services for e-commerce sellers, on Monday celebrated its inaugural freighter flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport.

The company purchased the used Boeing 777 aircraft last year to increase its line-haul transport capabilities for better control and speed of deliveries. Central Airlines is operating the cargo jet three to four times per week from Shenzhen to Paris on behalf of Zongteng subsidiary YunExpress. A second 777 freighter is expected to enter service during the third quarter, doubling cargo capacity and the number of weekly flights.

Zongteng and Central Airlines have conducted regularly scheduled flights between Shenzhen and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, since October while the carrier worked to obtain the Paris route authority. Aircraft tracking site FlightAware shows the Central Airlines freighter making occasional stops in Osaka, Japan, too. 

Zongteng in 2021 reported gross sales of $4.4 billion. It has the infrastructure to process an average of 1.4 million parcels per day, nearly 13 million square feet of global warehouse capacity, more than 6,000 employees and 15,000 clients, including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Shopify and ultrafast fashion online retailer Shein.

The new airfreight service supports a comprehensive e-commerce service capability between China and Europe that includes ground pickup and delivery, fulfillment centers and regional warehouses

“We strive to build on our strategic investment in self-owned freighters and a logistics network, and identify further opportunities to maximize the capabilities of the air freight supply chain” in Europe, said Jack Peng, senior vice president Zongteng Group and general manager YunExpress, in a news release.

YunExpress is a small package freight forwarder that provides end-to-end cross-border delivery service using third-party ocean, road and parcel carriers such as DHL and UPS. It has more than 30 fulfillment centers in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a self-owned delivery network in Europe. 

Other portfolio brands are Elogistic, a provider of domestic direct shipping, warehousing, distribution and returns logistics for e-commerce businesses, and WorldTech, which offers customized logistics services, including customs clearance and less-than-truckload transport.

Central Airlines is a relatively new airline that operates six standard Boeing 737 freighters, in addition to Zongteng’s 777.

Zongteng’s move to launch an in-house airline resembles how ocean carriers Maersk, CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co. have launched their own airlines so they can provide large customers with a suite of end-to-end services depending on their circumstances and requirements.

Meanwhile, the logistics arm of Chinese e-commerce platform, this month launched two new all-cargo routes with its fledgling airline. JD Logistics last fall began supplementing outsourced airlift by operating two Boeing 737-800 freighters with its own crews to support its online sales growth as well as provide capacity to third-party businesses. The company said JD Logistics Airlines is now flying the cargo aircraft from Beijing to Wuhu, an inland city in eastern China, and Nantong, located north of Shanghai. A second route has been established between Shenzhen and Wuxi, in Jiangsu province. 

JD Logistics also said SAIC-GM Wuling Automobile has also outsourced operation of its four auto parts warehouses in China to JD Logistics to increase delivery frequency from twice a week to six times per week. 

More FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]