Further 747 Freighters entered service one a year from 2008 to June 2011 consisting of 3 ex-All Nippon 747-481BD freighter conversions, with the full upper deck, and a second China Airlines 747-409F (B-2436). Routes were opened linking Shanghai and Chongqing to Europe via Moscow and Luxembourg. Traffic from Chongqing in particular consisted primarily of IT products. European services have subsequently been expanded with a round the world service connecting Shanghai-Brussels-Munich-Shanghai. Luxembourg and Frankfurt Hahn have been replaced with Amsterdam and Munich.
Despite this expansion the airline has not come close to the 11 widebody freighters that it was discussing in 2007 and indeed both of the 747-409Fs have since been retired from service. B-2431 was returned to China Airlines in 2012 and has been stored at Victorville for some time - registered again as B-18703. An Airbus A330-243F that was taken on in June 2012 was also returned in February 2014 and a further three not taken up.
The return of the two leased China Airlines 747s is not surprising given that the Taiwanese investments decided to sell their stakes in Yangtze River back to the HNA Group in September 2010, though this happenned gradually until 2013. The parties cited that the original plan was to tap the huge Chinese market at a time when no direct air links existed between China and Taiwan but since direct flights had been started the situation had changed. This seems to be only part of the story with suggestions that they were also unhappy with the poor financial performance of their investment.
Despite the reduction in the long haul fleet Yangtze River Express has significantly grown its regional operations and now operates 20 737 Classic Freighters as well as the 3 747s. It was serving 22 domestic and international destinations in 2013. Interestingly it has since gained permission to move into passenger services competing directly with the Shanghai based China Eastern group.
2013, September. Yangtze River Express' launches Amsterdam Airport Schiphol services. Aircargonews.net
2010. Taiwan giants sell Yangtze River Express stakes back to Hainan Air. Dolphin Logistics
Harris, David. 2010, August. Ownership Change at Yangtze River Express. Cargo Facts.com
2009. Yangtze River Express opens Chongqing-Luxembourg IT cargo service
2007, July. Yangtze River Express to start Shanghai-Luxembourg cargo airline. China People's Daily.
2007, July. Taiwan's China Airlines leases Boeing 747-400 indirectly to China JV - source. CAPA
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: