Federal Express Corp is to provide direct express service at Shenzhen's Huangtian airport by the end of the year. The company, which signed a letter of intent last week with Shenzhen Airport (Group) Co, will design and implement processes for a fast and efficient service. These include 24-hour customs clearance processing on-site, pre-arrival clearance for import shipments, customs automation and self-handling at Huangtian airport facilities. John Quinn, FedEx vice-president for China and mid-Pacific region, said: 'Our direct service to the Shenzhen airport will significantly complement our services to Beijing and Shanghai.' FedEx hopes to establish a world-class, all-cargo express service at Huangtian airport through close co-operation with the Shenzhen government and airport authorities. Huangtian, in service for 6.5 years, is the mainland's fourth busiest airport. More than 80 per cent of the SAR's air cargo originates from southern China. Other companies such as ATE from Taiwan, EAS airlines, Evergreen airlines, Japan Airlines and DHL all intend to set up offices in Shenzhen in readiness for the anticipated growth in air cargo in the region. A Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) official said recently the volume of the mainland's air cargo would continue to rise until 2010. Last year, mainland airfreight traffic - including mail - totalled 1.15 million tonnes and it is expected to rise to 1.3 million tonnes this year. Air cargo numbers have been growing at 25 per cent annually for the past five years. President of Shenzhen Airport (Group) Co Lu Shenghai said the CAAC had planned for Shenzhen airport to serve as one of four primary cargo centres in the mainland. 'We look forward to co-operating with FedEx as well as other domestic and international carriers to build Shenzhen airport into a modern international hub,' he said Huangtian is well positioned to serve Shenzhen, one of the mainland's most successful Special Economic Zones of the past two decades. Records show that Shenzhen's economy ranks sixth among China's medium to large cities. As hi-tech industries are the focus of Shenzhen's development plan, it has become one of the best air-cargo markets in China. Its export-oriented economy produced more than 20 per cent of the mainland's exports in terms of value in 1996.