E-commerce, global recovery fuel demand for international air cargo services

2024-01-26 08:21:50China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Demand for international air cargo transportation is rising, fueled by booming e-commerce deliveries from China to Western markets and the continuing global economic recovery, industry players said.

During the Black Friday shopping carnival in November and the Christmas and New Year holidays, a series of Chinese-made products again became widely popular in overseas markets, further driving the growth of cross-border e-commerce and international airfreight.

China now has more than 100,000 business operators involved in cross-border e-commerce, and total sales values have risen nearly 10-fold in the past five years, the Ministry of Commerce said.

From Dec 1 to Dec 27, China Southern Airlines' cargo business saw its total volumes of international outbound cargo and mail from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, exceed 30,000 metric tons, a 52 percent year-on-year rise. In particular, electronic products such as mobile phones, as well as cosmetics and toys, witnessed significant export growth, the airline said.

The carrier, which is based in Guangzhou, said it responded to peak demand for cross-border transportation at the end of last year by connecting the upstream and downstream areas of the supply chain and customizing comprehensive logistics solutions for the entire chain based on customers' demands.

The airline added that during the peak period, it further strengthened management and controls, added more entry channels to transport products to warehouses, and improved logistics efficiency at airports.

In the first three quarters of last year, the import and export value of China's cross-border e-commerce sector reached 1.7 trillion yuan ($236.8 billion), with the export value standing at 1.3 trillion yuan, up by 17.7 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Meanwhile, SF Airlines, China's largest air cargo carrier by fleet size and the aviation branch of the nation's leading courier enterprise SF Express, said it continued to expand its services last year. It also provided logistics services for numerous major cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, ByteDance and Temu.

SF said it launched several value-added services and upgraded logistics services, boosting steady growth in the volume of customer orders.

On Jan 1, a Boeing 767 cargo plane operated by SF and carrying goods such as liquid crystal display screens, clothing, and circuit boards, flew from Ezhou Huahu Airport in Hubei province to New Delhi, the Indian capital, marking the 1,000th international cargo flight operated from Huahu airport.

Built by SF and the local government, the airport began operations in July 2022. This cargo-focused hub, which has some passenger traffic, launched its first international cargo route in April.

Data released by the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, for global air cargo markets in November indicate the strongest year-on-year growth for about two years. This expansion was partly due to weakness in the same month the previous year, but also reflected a fourth consecutive month of strengthening demand for air cargo.

Global demand for such consignments measured in cargo ton-kilometers rose by 8.3 percent compared with November 2022. Demand for international operations grew by 8.1 percent, IATA said.

Capacity grew by 13.7 percent compared with November 2022. Most of this expansion was due to an increase in aircraft storage capacity as international passenger markets continued their post-COVID-19 recovery.

In particular, global cross-border trade recorded growth for the third consecutive month in October, reversing a decline. Air cargo yields continued to strengthen, in line with improving air cargo load factors in recent months, IATA said.

IATA director-general Willie Walsh said, "November air cargo demand was up 8.3 percent over 2022, the strongest year-on-year growth in almost two years."

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