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Helpful flights keep valuable cargo moving

By ZHU WENQIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-27 09:20

Cargo is unloaded from China Southern Airlines' Flight CZ8054 coming from Milan, Italy, at Haikou Meilan International Airport in Haikou, Hainan province, on June 7. [Photo by YUAN CHEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Liu Zihe, general manager of Qingdao Dakai Freight Forwarding Co, said the company suggested that business operators should arrange shipment plans and reserve warehouses in advance, to avoid potential shortage of available spots for shipment.

"Airlines should also speed up their process of converting some passenger aircraft into freighters and further increase freight capacity, and thus get fully prepared for the upcoming peak period of airfreight transportation in the latter half of the year," Liu said.

Meanwhile, China is further ramping up efforts to strengthen its airfreight handling capacity to meet increasing demand. Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in East China, is leveraging the favorable policy of the China (Zhejiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone to build the first domestic intelligent multilayer structured freight station at the airport.

The station, located in the free trade zone, utilizes a large number of automated and information-based container cargo handling systems and bulk cargo handling systems. It aims to handle 600,000 tons of goods annually by 2035, according to the local FTZ commission of Hangzhou.

In the first half of this year, the Xiaoshan airport handled cargo and mail throughput of 461,600 tons, up 28 percent year-on-year. In the same period, international and regional cargo and mail throughput reached 92,400 tons, surging 98 percent year-on-year.

"Hangzhou is a city known for e-commerce, and it has China's first pilot zone that deals with cross-border e-commerce business," said Wu Changhong, director of cross-border e-commerce business of the FTZ commission of Hangzhou.

"Now, mail, deliveries and cross-border e-commerce goods account for about 50 percent of the total goods transported between Hangzhou and overseas cities. This trend is different from the airport's cargo operation in Shanghai, where general trade makes up the main portion of cargo services," Wu said.

To meet increasing transport demand from the cross-border e-commerce business, more cargo routes that connect Hangzhou and foreign cities have been launched. Last year, the Xiaoshan airport added eight international cargo routes, including destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Los Angeles.

In addition, a cargo flight route linking Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui province, and London was launched earlier this month. The airfreight route, coordinated by JD Logistics Inc, the delivery arm of e-commerce giant JD, is expected to fill the cargo flight gap between Anhui and Europe, and meet the demand in Hefei and its surrounding areas for air logistics to Europe.

This year, the Xiaoshan airport launched new cargo routes that connect Hangzhou with Seoul and Osaka. With this, the number of international and regional regular freight routes connected to Hangzhou and other cities has exceeded 20.

China's domestic air travel market is gradually picking up after being ravaged for months by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. In the second quarter of this year, the volume of air passengers transported reached 89 percent of the same period of 2019 when there was no pandemic, according to the CAAC.

In the first half of this year, State-owned China Southern Airlines achieved sales revenue of 50.12 billion yuan ($7.75 billion), up 32 percent year-on-year. During the period, it incurred a net loss of 4.69 billion yuan, significantly narrower than the loss recorded in the same period of last year, according to its latest half-year earnings report.

In 2020, the top five airlines globally ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown were American Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, the IATA found.

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