Shanghai’s two major airports have suspended hundreds of flights in response to a potential COVID outbreak in the city. Cargo lines have been affected by the cancellations.

‘zero-Covid’ policy enforced in Shanghai

Last Thursday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced that it would be closing Shanghai Pudong International Airport to all inbound passenger flights after three Covid cases were reported in the city. China employs a strict ‘zero-Covid policy’ to prevent the spread of coronavirus within its borders. Snap lockdowns and travel restrictions are quickly implemented whenever cases arise.

china air flight being loaded
much of the cargo entering Shanghai is in belly-freight | © China Daily

Over 500 flights were cancelled at the city’s two major airports on Friday as a result of the measures. For the next six weeks, all international flights bound for Shanghai Pudong will be rediverted to one of 13 other cities. However, the airport will not be fully closed, with domestic flights still operating.

Freight affected

The ban does not apply to freighters flying into Shanghai, though the cargo industry has been indirectly affected by the new measures. Much of the freight coming through Shanghai was in the bellies of passenger aircraft, and now that avenue has closed, forwarders are looking for other ways to transport their goods. The diminished cargo capacity in the city has resulted in a vast increase in Sea-Air bookings. CargoGulf global development director Hans-Henrik Nielsen said:

“We have been hit with a tsunami of rate inquiries, space bookings for sea-air ex-Shanghai via Dubai,”

“It’s all cargo that is now being moved from rail-truck or to sea-air and, of course, airfreight, which may not be able to move at all out of Pudong.”

He said that one forwarder was looking to book 400 tons for sea air, which was originally meant to fly by air. Transport between Europe and Asia has been under stress these past few weeks due to Russian airspace closures, and the new rules in Shanghai have only compounded issues. With other Chinese cities being affected by snap lockdowns, it will be interesting to see how the industry deals with the coming weeks.

 

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