The current quarantine regulations for airports implemented by China have reduced airfreight capacity.
The new rules affect the largest cargo airports in China such as Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Beijing, while there is a certain increase of volumes due to disruption in ocean and peak season already starting in the beginning of September.
Reduced general capacity
A significantly reduced throughout capacity at the airports is to be expected, and consequently backlogs, unloaded planes and eventually, flight cancellations, which altogether translates into less capacity, higher rates, and longer lead times.
The total air cargo capacity- including wide body passenger and all freighter flights- was down 10% between August 23 and September 5, in comparison to the same weeks in 2019. On the other hand, transpacific Eastbound capacity remains strong in response to high demand, up +8% compared to 2019.
Shanghai (PVG) air cargo capacity has dropped 30% in the last five weeks due to handling workers controls over Covid restrictions.
In fact, this impact on PVG capacity may be higher, as the restrictions have forced many airlines to fly empty; a total of 235 flights were cancelled over the past 5 weeks, 115 of them were freighter operations.
During the past 3 weeks, there has been an average of 50 fewer freighter flights weekly. Air cargo capacity ex PVG to North America and Europe (incl. via Middle East) has been affected the most.
Airlines and forwarders are forced to utilize airports in the west and south of China. HGH and CGO have increased its cargo capacity up to 40%, HKG and CAN up to 9%, and CTU, CKG, PEK up to 19%.
Holidays in China
Mid-Autumn festival, celebrated September 19-22, may worsen supply problems with the closure of many offices during the entire week.
Rates at historic highs
The impact of the shift of orders from ocean to air continues, while airfares from China to North America and Europe keep rising.
The rate increases are very high, with export rates out of China now at the levels of May 2020, when PPE equipment was being shipped.
There are long space queues for all service levels, and transit times have become unexpectedly long, with no guarantee even for express-flash option.
Considering this situation, the backlog becomes heavier and it is expected for the market congestion to worsen in the following weeks.