Disruptions at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Due to new Covid-19 cases at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), one of China's largest airports, we currently observe massive delays in air freight cargo departing China. Independent media reported on Friday that two new infections have been detected among ground handling staff. As a result, Chinese authorities have largely suspended cargo handling operations at PVG to break the infection chains, and many cargo freighters and passenger-converted cargo flights, have been canceled.

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Update: August, 23.

The restrictions imposed on aviation continue to create a significant impact on our business. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and other airports imposed a close loop policy at cargo terminals that massively impact both Import & Export cargo flights. Here’s an overview of the latest developments:

Outbound cargo flights:

  • Shanghai: PVG Airport & Cargo terminal are facing severe manpower shortage due to the 14+7+7 close-loop staff rostering and the rising number of absentees from duty
  • PAX flights (with passenger & cargo onboard) operates as normal.
  • Pure Cargo PAX-Belly Aircraft Suspended (no passenger onboard)
  • Massive Cancellations on Cargo Freighter
  • The shortage of ground staff at PVG airport resulting multiple airlines suffering from no fit positions or empty flights out
  • Carriers are re-diverting the cargo flight to other airports – e.g. CGO
  • Minimal of additional transit time 3 -5 days is expected

Inbound cargo flights

  • Shortage of manpower at the terminals to perform inbound cargo processing
  • Extensive disinfection processing further delayed the handling time
  • Additional handling time 3-5 days is expected

To curb the latest wave of Covid-19 infections, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has imposed strict regulations for foreign and domestic airlines as well as for airport handling agents. The CAAC has suspended foreigner crew night stops in China, resulting in last-minute cancellations and/or short-term flight rerouting (i.e. addition of stopover point via another Asian airport).

Besides, rising infections amongst crew members have been reported amongst certain domestic Chinese carriers. In particular, China Eastern (MU) recently canceled all of their PAX-converted cargo flights and several freighter flights because of rising cockpit crew infections.

For airport handling crews the Chinese airport authorities mandated extra disinfection measures, that lead to extra handling times and complexities to our handling process. Above, we observe rising absenteeism amongst ground operation staff and a shortage in manpower due to the tightened rostering measures.

What’s the impact on our operations?

Still, we observe a severe reduction in cargo capacities due to ongoing flight cancellations. This is also further triggering the volatile rate situation generally. Eventually, given the tense situation, we expect prolonged ground handling and transit times (Import 3 to 5 days; Export 3 to 5 days).

Our teams are effortlessly working to minimize the negative impact on our airfreight operations.

The Situation on August, 20, 2020

Even before, the ongoing rotation of handling personnel and the general shortage of ground staff has led to cascading effects within cargo handling which are now accelerated by the recent Corona cases:

  • Flights departing China partially, or even completely empty, due to insufficient handling agents to build and load cargo
  • Flight cancellations
  • Elongated recovery times for China imports (currently 3-5 days delay on average)
  • A volatile rate market
  • Limited capacity for shipments for at least the next week
  • Suspension of existing blocked space agreements (BSAs) by the carriers
  • Exports to China will similarly be affected as more flight cancellations take place, rates are likely to be volatile

Our Hellmann Airfreight teams across the globe are effortlessly working to keep disruptions to your business to a minimum. We anticipate that it will take sometime to clear the backlogs created by this event. We will do the utmost to work with our carrier partners and create solutions that will enable us best to serve your needs. We will continue to monitor the situation which remains fluid and update you as needed.

Henrik Schütte

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