Peeking ahead to peak season

Yes, it is still mid-summer, but news out of China today has us looking ahead to the fourth quarter.

Peak season may not be quite the massive boost to air freight volumes that it once was, but it is still important. Retailers still make mistakes with inventory planning, and there is nothing a cargo airline sales executive likes to hear more than “We need six pallets of [insert this year’s hot product] in Frankfurt and eight pallets in Chicago by Thursday morning. Can you do that?”

The expressway leading to Pudong (PVG) Airport.

Most of the charter flights to get those pallets to Europe or North America originate in China, and more often than not in Shanghai.

But that may be a problem this year, as the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has just issued a ban forbidding all three major Shanghai-area airports from adding frequencies, adding charter flights, and making new route applications. The CAAC said the move was the result of Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA), and Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH) failing to meet on-time performance standards for four consecutive months.

To have the ban lifted, the airports must meet performance standards for two consecutive months, so, in theory at least, PVG could be back in the charter business by early October – but only if it meets the on-time performance requirements for both August and September. If it does, then peak season charters will be available. If not, then airports in places like Beijing, Zhengzhou, and Guangzhou will benefit.

And, on the subject of Shanghai Pudong, here’s a pilot’s-eye view of a Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F landing at PVG.

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