Three of China's largest cargo carriers - China Cargo Airlines (CK, Shanghai Hongqiao), Air China Cargo (CA, Beijing Capital), and the cargo division of China Southern Airlines (CZ, Guangzhou) - are to merge the deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has told the Xinhua news agency.

According to Zhou Laizhen, the resulting carrier will be Asia's largest air-freight transport company. He offered no possible timelines for the merger.

A 70/30 joint venture between China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao) and China Ocean Shipping, China Cargo Airlines operates four B747-400(F)s, one B757-200(PF), and six B777-Fs while for its part, Air China Cargo is a joint venture between Air China (CA, Beijing Capital) and Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) operating three B747-400(F)s, four B757-200(F)s, and six B777-Fs. China Southern's freight operations include two reactivated B747-400(F)s and nine B777-Fs.

Together, the airlines offer extensive connectivity between the Chinese market and those in Asia, Europe, and North America.