Zhengzhou airport

Airfreight diverted from lockdown-hit Shanghai Pudong (PVG) is clogging up China’s other major airports, causing a shortage of pallets for exports.

Forwarders have singled out Zhengzhou Airport (CGO), in the central Henan province, as the hardest-hit, given the large amount of cargo diverted there from Shanghai.

Adding to the difficulties, Zhengzhou was itself began a two-week lockdown over the weekend that including the economic zone, with restrictions on travel and vehicle permits.

One Chinese forwarder told The Loadstar: “It’s not a real lockdown, but more a strict control of trucks and drivers in and out of the airport, whereby each day CGO issues passes to qualified trucks.”

The bigger problem, he said, was the increasing congestion at Zhengzhou, an the other major airfreight hubs in China, adding: “Unfortunately, there’s no improvement so far at PVG – most flights are suspended. The majority of export cargo is being diverted to other airports, however there is a massive reduction of air freight volumes, due to factories in the surrounding areas being under lockdown.”

At the same time, the forwarder added, the cargo diversions from PVG have caused “huge backlogs” at other major airports, including Zhengzhou, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

“Many airports have run out of capacity to store cargo,” he said. “Therefore, various measures have been taken, such as significantly increasing airport storage fees, or temporary embargoes on inbound cargo. Overall, exports are not seriously affected yet, but it has caused problems for airlines which don’t have enough available PMC pallets to load export cargo.”

Jimmy Hu, business development manager at YAD Supply Chain Logistics in Shenzhen, singled out Guangzhou as being “very congested”, and said the cross-border trucking service between China and Hong Kong was gradually returning to normal, which should help shippers with dangerous goods cargo needing to access flights from Hong Kong.

Capacity from Hong Kong is still being hampered by Covid restrictions, however. For example, Cathay Pacific said its long-haul cargo routes during March “remained constrained by ongoing aircrew quarantine requirements.”

Chief commercial officer Ronald Lam said: “Overall, our cargo flight capacity has recovered over 40% compared to the lowest point in January, although it remains just 29% of pre-Covid levels.

“On the demand side, tonnage contribution from Hong Kong reduced in March, as cross-border trucking capacity remained constrained, and production in the southern part of the mainland was affected by anti-pandemic measures.”

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