|Cargo logjam building after Covid disrupts handling at Shanghai Pudong Airport
Covid-testing has disrupted cargo operations at Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) today, with widespread delays and flight cancellations expected over the weekend.
Ramp handler Shanghai International Airport Services (SIAS) suspended activities after a positive case was detected, and all staff were sent for testing or quarantine, according to forwarders.
One said: “But PVG is not closed – none of terminals are closed, that is just a rumour – the problem is with the ramp handler only.”
Nevertheless, the impact is likely to be substantial. The forwarder said there were serious delays for flights today and over the weekend, with many more cancellation notices expected from airlines next week.
He added: “SIAS is the major aircraft ramp service provider for almost all foreign airlines at PVG. It is likely that some flights will fly out without cargo, or be severely delayed waiting for limited manpower to resume to handle the aircraft.
“Therefore, this sudden problem will surely lead to further disruption for many airlines.”
Ans, as a result he said, more cargo would be offloaded and pile up at PVG, confirmed rates and bookings for cargo would be no longer valid and “forthcoming air freight rates will soar due to the serious lack of capacity”.
Indeed, in a notice to customers, Qatar Airways Cargo chief officer Guillaume Halleux said: “Due to the continuing outbreak of coronavirus cases in Shanghai, we are facing innumerable challenges affecting our operations. These unforeseen challenges are beyond our control. Our ground handling agent has advised us that there is no manpower available to handle any incoming and outgoing flights from Shanghai.
“In view of this, we are temporarily restricting the acceptance of all cargo into and out of PVG until further notice.”
The airport had already been operating with a reduced workforce, after ground handling staff walked out over harsh new quarantine rules.
Rickard Ingvarsson, CEO Asia at Scan Global Logistics, said the company had received confirmation SIAS had suspended operations until further notice, disrupting cargo handling for some 17 airlines, including freighters and pax-freighters for major cargo carriers such as Air China, Cathay Pacific, Qatar and Etihad.
He added: “There are rumours that [cargo terminals] PACTL and Eastern Air Logistics will stop accepting cargo, too.”