Spring Festival extension and Corona Virus emergency: the impact on the international freight transport sector
According to the official sources China’s State Council announced on January 27 that the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival holiday will be extended to February 2 across the country in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak; the holiday week was originally from January 24 to January 30.
In various Chinese provinces, the local governments have further postponed the end of the holiday.
The provinces of Jiangxi, Shandong, Anhui, Chongqing (the administrative area), Jiangsu, Yunnan and Zhejiang have announced that “non-essential” enterprises will remain closed until February 9th. The same deadline also applies to Shanghai and Guangdong, where, however, the closure extends to all businesses.
The province of Hubei has announced that companies in the province will remain closed until February 13. (the various clickable links refer to the official Chinese information)
Many employees will work from home.
In addition to temporary closings of tourist sites, museums and event cancellations, transportation restrictions have been imposed in various areas as the country is still in the peak travel period of the Spring Festival.
Likewise, universities, primary, middle and kindergartens across the country postpone the opening of the semester until further notice, according to the General Office of the State Council.
The impact on the international freight transport sector
The extension of the Chinese New Year holidays and the various restrictions obviously will cause delays in the freight transport sector.
By now, global ports and airports continue to operate.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the global shipping body representing 80% of the world’s merchant fleet, is advising its membership to take steps that limit the spread of the novel Corona Virus (2019-nCov). The instructions reflect advice given from the World Health Organisation (WHO), who stated that if certain measures are taken, there should be no “unnecessary restrictions of international traffic”, meaning ports and global shipping can continue to operate. (ics-shipping.org)
IATA (International Air Transport Association) is closely monitoring developments related to the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan (China) and is actively engaged with the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat, ICAO and the US Centers for Disease Control. (iata.org)
International cargo transport China
The Corona Virus outbreak has caused the isolation of the city of Wuhan (Hubei province), and other large Chinese settlements, and is now also limiting the air transport.
On January 30, 2020, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has suspended all flights between Italy and China.
It is not clear whether the ban also applies to cargo aircrafts; in any case, even passenger airplanes carry goods, so this measure will inevitably also affect the international freight transport. In the recent days, some airlines, including British and Lufthansa, have suspended the flights to and from China.
Furthermore, the isolation of the city of Wuhan, which is an important multimodal hub connecting the central China and the port of Shanghai, requires the re-addressing of large flows of goods, a complex but not impossible operation. The problem will be much worse if the epidemic reaches the Chinese coastal metropolises, where ports and customs authorities continue to operate.
In this regard, our Chinese partners informed us that the truck transport service will resume from February 3 in Shanghai and from February 10 in other cities.
The customs brokers will work again in the office from February 3, while freight forwarders and carriers will work remotely (they’ll come back to the office from February 10).
From our side, we will keep you informed about the development of the situation. Finally, we would like to express our solidarity with all our partners, customers and all those who are experiencing this difficult moment.
Contact us for any clarification regarding your international freight transport to/from China! Our team can assist you also in Chinese or English language.