Chinese Government Launches Key Steps to Stabilize Air Freight Capacity
Civil Aviation authority has taken multiple measures to stabilize the international air cargo capacity during the novel coronavirus pandemic to guarantee the international supply chain of anti-epidemic materials. To increase the air freight capacity, the administration has set aside slots in rush hours at several large airports for use by all freighters, opened a “green channel” for the approval of cargo flight plans, and encouraged domestic and foreign airlines to carry out overtime chartered flights for cargo. Domestic airlines are encouraged to use idle passenger jets to carry out cargo flights and take the initiative to contact foreign trade enterprises and understand their demands for transportation, so that they could arrange chartered flights to cope with possible surges in transportation demands.
Highlights from CAAC’s Press Conference
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) held a press conference last week, where the aviation authority updated the public on the latest status of China’s air transport industry under new policies issued earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key issues outlined below.
Daily Domestic Capacity at 42% of Pre-Epidemic Average
China has seen a modest rebound in its daily domestic capacity, which has recovered to 42% of the average level before the COVID-19 outbreak, with 6,533 flights carried out daily in March, an increase of 20.5% compared to the last month. The passenger flights have resumed mainly in the northwest and southwest areas of China, where feature a relatively high concentration of migrant workers, and areas of eager labor demand, such as Yangtze river delta and the pearl river delta.
“First Points of Entry into China”
There were 106 flights re-adjusted by 7 airlines as of 1st April, after CAAC announced that all Beijing-bound international flights should be diverted to the ” designated first points of entry into China” starting Mar. 20. These designated airports have handled a total of 24,651 inbound passengers, of which 20,665 passengers were stranded in their entering cities, a rate of about 84%. Among all “first points”, the top 3 airports by the number of inbound international flights are Tianjin Binhai International Airport (31), Qingdao Liuting International Airport (15) and Hohhot Baita International Airport (14).
No More Than 134 Intl Flights Per Week
As China’s international flights have now been limited to no more than 134 per week, there will be a total of only 108 flights into the country during the first week after Mar. 29, the effective start date of the government’s new policy ordering international schedule cuts. The flights to be operated are mainly from 4 countries, namely United States, Thailand, Cambodia and Japan.
Airports in Hubei Resume Flights
All domestic flights have resumed operations in Hubei Province except for the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan. As of Apr. 1, 4 airports in the cities of Yichang, Xiangyang, Shiyan and Enshi have handled a total of 26,624 passengers for 377 flights, of which 66% are outbound passengers and 34% are inbound passengers.
Increased Intl Air Freight Volume
The number of international cargo flights in China this week has reached 1,195, an increase of 17.85% compared to the pre-epidemic average of 1,014. There were 528 chartered cargo-only flights approved in March, which is about 4.47 times the number for the same period last year, and a quarter of the total number in 2019.
Qatar Airways Resumes Scheduled Belly-hold Cargo Operations to China in Response to Increased Demand
Qatar Airways Cargo announced that it will resume scheduled belly-hold cargo operations to China with the utilization of wide-body and passenger-configurated aircraft effective 30 March. The additional cargo capacity is being added to the carrier’s existing freighter service amid increased demand for the shipment of immediate goods in and out of the region. The decision to reinstate belly-hold service to six of its passenger destinations in the country is in line with airline’s initiative to continue supporting worldwide connectivity, re-establishing the global supply chain, and meeting the market’s strong demand for freight exports and imports. This includes the transportation of urgent medical relief aid that is pivotal to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are pleased to resume belly-hold cargo operations to China where the COVID-19 pandemic has been significantly contained and industrial production is restoring nationwide. In addition to our dedicated freighter service, the extra belly-hold availability leveraging the flexibility and reliability of our fleet will greatly enhance our cargo handling capacity in China to support market’s soaring demand for imports and exports, including the urgent outbound shipment of essential commodities, fresh produce, food products, and large proportion of medical supplies to other parts of the world that are currently facing the public health crisis.”
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