UPS has started building a 96,000 square meter air cargo hub at Shanghai Pudong International Airport to better connect China to its global network, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. The center, the first of its kind to be built by a US cargo carrier in China, is scheduled to be in operation next year. By the time it is finished, the center may be larger than the current design because of growing demand for freight transport, Mike Eskew, the chairman and CEO of UPS, said. “The opening of this hub will ensure we are well-positioned to support the massive growth in Asia,” he added. UPS’s export volumes grew more than 25% in China during the second quarter, he said, and by more than 20% for the Asia region. The hub, which has received an initial investment of US$20 million, is expected to be capable of sorting 17,000 pieces an hour by 2012. The facility has resulted from a Sino-US civil aviation accord signed in 2004 that promised to open up the skies of both countries. Talks between UPS and the Shanghai Airport Authority began that year, but the deal was not finalized until early this year. “We are still in talks with other world leading cargo transport companies and airlines on similar projects,” said Wu Nianzu, chairman and president of the authority. The express delivery giant also plans to boost capacity by upsizing its aircraft from the current MD-11s to Boeing 747-400s.