Rising commerce helps China Southern boost business ties with Europe

2023-08-08 13:11:52China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Visitors check out a salmon imported from Norway during the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November 2019. (MA JIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Lin Ling is the freight manager of China Southern Airlines' cargo business in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the transport of salmon from Europe to China is one of the projects that she has been responsible for.

Amsterdam stands as one of the most important airfreight ports in Europe, and it is also the first European city to which China Southern launched cargo flights, some two decades ago. So far, the Guangzhou, Guangdong province-based airline has launched four cargo flight routes to and from Amsterdam, and it operates 14 weekly cargo flights, facilitating trade between China and Europe.

As a fresh and perishable product, salmon has demanding requirements with respect to timeliness and storage temperatures. Lin has been actively coordinating with the Amsterdam airport to launch a green channel to shorten ground transportation time. She also made efforts to promote the application of cold-chain storage technology and equipment in Amsterdam to guarantee the freshness of the seafood.

"During the years working in Amsterdam, I experienced strong snowstorms but still had to guarantee the transportation of goods. I also walked miles at the airport to coordinate with ground transportation. It's my responsibility to guarantee the safe takeoff and landing of every freighter and I'm honored to contribute to the trade growth between China and Europe," Lin said.

Over the past few years, Chinese consumers have shown an increasing appetite for imported seafood, fueled by their rising incomes and the consumption upgrade trends in the country. The trade volume of imported seafood has been on the rise, and salmon is one of the varieties that see high import volumes.

In the first six months of this year, Norway exported 23,500 metric tons of salmon to China, up 67 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, sales value of these salmon shipments reached 1.97 billion yuan ($273.9 million), surging 95 percent year-on-year, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council.

China continues to be Norway's largest export destination of seafood in Asia. In addition to salmon, China also imports a large amount of other seafood such as cod, trout and mackerel from Norway, the council said.

From 2020 until the present, China Southern has helped transport more than 20,000 tons of salmon from Europe to China, the carrier said.

With the booming growth of cross-border e-commerce, express delivery of small packages has gradually become one of the important forces driving trade growth between China and the Netherlands. Through cooperation with China Southern, it has ensured cross-border merchants' deliveries of a large number of overseas packages.

A Hangzhou, Zhejiang province-based merchant involved in the cross-border e-commerce business said the rich network of China Southern's services has enabled him to expand his business in the Netherlands. It only takes three days for his customers in the Netherlands to receive packages delivered from China.

The cargo routes of China Southern that connect Amsterdam and Chinese cities have further established the position of the Netherlands in facilitating trade in Europe, and indirectly promote employment and economic growth locally, the carrier said.

Over the past few years, China Southern has transported more than 500,000 tons of inbound and outbound goods to Amsterdam annually. Between 2021 and 2025, China Southern plans to introduce more Boeing B777 freighters to increase transportation capacity in Amsterdam.

The International Air Transport Association recently announced an expected strengthening of airline industry profitability in an upgrade of its outlook for 2023. Cargo volumes are expected to reach 57.8 million tons this year, below the 61.5 million tons carried in 2019, with a sharp slowing of international trade volumes.

Cargo revenue remains above pre-pandemic levels even though volumes have not. On the cost side, there is some relief. Jet fuel prices, although still high, moderated over the first half of the year, the IATA said.


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