Shanghai Airport Facility In COVID Lockdown, Cargo Backlog Expected

Source: Logfret China; Global Times CN; The Loadstar; Reuters; Freightwave
Date: 21st August 2021

It was reported that authorities have suspended operations in a major warehouse at Shanghai Pudong International Airport because of a COVID outbreak, putting a halt to most freighter activity at China’s largest cargo airport.

The timing of the closure throws another wrench in supply chains already stretched thin by ocean and airfreight capacity shortages and extensive shipping delays as the peak export season kicks into high gear for the holidays. All-cargo carriers in Shanghai have faced delays and canceled flights for more than a week because of airport staffing shortages that occurred when authorities imposed strict COVID protocols to prevent the virus from spreading.

As of midday local time in China, several positive COVID cases were discovered at the Pudong Air Cargo Terminal (PACTL), forcing a pause in all ground handling, customs, and airfreight services in Shanghai.

PACTL is one of two cargo terminals at the Shanghai Pudong airport.

All freighter flights are canceled until further notice, and the airport is only accepting cargo from passenger aircraft. Serious backlogs are happening now in Shanghai. Qatar Airways and Polar Air Cargo (NASDAQ: AAWW) are diverting all-cargo aircraft to Guangzhou, Zhengzhou and Shenzhen. Other airlines are diverting flights to Hong Kong.

Etihad Cargo and other airlines have already canceled weekend freighter departures.

No statement has been issued by the airport authority or PACTL, and a great deal of conflicting information is circulating in the Shanghai cargo community. Health authorities are testing everyone in the cargo terminal for COVID. The duration of the shutdown is uncertain, but could be more than a week based on how authorities have handled similar cases at seaports and other logistics hubs.

Some are considering alternative export methods such as using ferry services to South Korea and transferring to the airport, or sea-air transshipment via Singapore or Dubai.

Many are moving weekend consolidation freight through Chengdu airport and other smaller airports to the west because everyone is afraid to drop cargo at Shanghai Pudong due to the anticipated backlogs. Delays and longer transit times are likely to occur.

In related news, the Meishan Terminal at the Port of Ningbo, China, which authorities shut down 10 days ago over one COVID case, has started to load and unload vessels that were already berthed prior to Wednesday. Empty pickups are scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, with the terminal back to full operating tempo by Sept. 1.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact our Logfret team in China.

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