The Impact of COVID-19 on Airfreight from China

January 24, 2023
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The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic continues to present systemic challenges throughout global supply chains despite the efforts of government and healthcare guidelines. Each company operating within the logistics space has evolved its business to fit within the ever-changing global trade landscape during the pandemic. A prime example is the pandemic’s effects on companies moving airfreight from China, a market that has experienced a tumultuous three years due to global economic forces, local government restrictions, and volume surges.


In early December, the Chinese government eased their strict “Zero-Covid” measures designed to eliminate infections. The policy resulted in regional lockdowns and, ultimately, widespread mass protests in opposition against these government policies. By Dec. 23, Chinese officials estimated that the U-turn on COVID restrictions created a surge of new cases infecting 37 million people in a single week. In the first two weeks after the government eased restrictions, China’s National Health Commission reported that an estimated 248 million people likely contracted the coronavirus. China’s new stance on COVID will continue to affect the airfreight industry, as well as major factories, ports, airports, and global logistics as a whole.


This article provides an overview of the continued impact of COVID-19 on moving airfreight from China, offering shippers, brokers, and freight forwarders solutions to help them overcome some of the ongoing strains affecting their supply chains.

Airfreight from China During COVID

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government maintained a strict national “Zero-Covid” policy in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the general population. This resulted in large-scale quarantines and lockdowns of entire cities. These measures greatly affected China’s major factories and industrial sectors and negatively impacted their manufacturing output — resulting in lower volumes of airfreight from China


However, data from December 2022 shows that China’s air cargo industry had recovered nearly to pre-Covid levels. In 2021, the airfreight volume rose 8.2% to 7.32 million tonnes. International cargo flights rose 22% this past year, bolstered by several airlines entering the logistics space by converting their passenger liners into cargo jets to capitalize on the surge in airfreight caused by the pandemic. But while these trends might suggest that airfreight generally is in higher demand, cargo volumes in the first few weeks of 2023 have declined, particularly out of Asian and North American markets.


What Does the End of Zero-COVID Mean for Airfreight from China?

A recent CNBC report indicates that China’s new COVID surge is “crippling” major ports and factories throughout the country, with logistics managers warning customers that factories cannot complete orders due to the labor force’s inability to work. Beyond the labor issues that accompany major outbreaks, the end of China’s Zero-COVID policy could have broad, unforeseen impacts on the manufacturing and shipping industries at some of the world’s busiest ports.


As logistics experts attempt to understand how the end of zero-COVID will impact operations going forward, shippers are looking for solutions. “In the coming months, firms should focus on helping their Chinese manufacturing facilities and supply-chain partners develop contingency plans to ensure supply-chain resilience in case the pandemic evolves in a free-fall fashion in China,” recommend Tinglong Dai and Christopher S. Tang, writing in Barron’s, “[…] In the long term, firms should continue to invest in new technologies that can enhance supply chain resilience, such as digitized manufacturing, robotics, and automation.” 


With the transportation industry staring down an uncertain future in China, shippers are turning to innovative strategies to ensure that shipments arrive on time, regardless of supply chain disruptions. Recent software innovations enable companies to track the location of their shipments in real time. With these visibility innovations, shippers can be made aware of supply chain disruptions as soon as they occur, not after. In addition to advancements in visibility, shippers are turning to on-demand capacity solutions to ensure that airfreight from China can be quickly recovered from airports and logistics hubs as soon as it arrives, improving efficiency and limiting delay times. 


By partnering with a real-time visibility-enabled expedited airfreight recovery provider, shippers can rely on airfreight services from China with the assurance that shipments will be delivered on time, every time. 

Facing Uncertainty in Airfreight Services from China, the Transportation Industry Chooses Carrier 911

China’s ongoing COVID-19 concerns continue to create unique challenges for global shippers, who must maintain stability in their supply chain no matter the circumstances. That’s why companies with urgent airfreight recovery needs turn to Carrier 911, an experienced provider specializing in expedited airfreight from China and all around the world.


Carrier 911’s team of logistics specialists offers reliable service that includes 24/7 real-time visibility. All shipments are tracked, traced, and updated automatically through an easy-to-use digital platform with Turvo integration, ensuring you are never left in the dark during the entire journey. With Carrier911’s extensive network of on-demand air cargo recovery vehicles, shippers can pair unprecedented visibility with unprecedented access to nationwide expedited airfreight recovery services. A dedicated team of professionals will ensure your just-in-time deliveries get there when they should.


When supply chain uncertainty calls for airfreight urgency, the transportation industry turns to Carrier911. To improve your supply chain resiliency, get in touch with Carrier911 today.

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