DHLGF, Chinese express carriers scramble for Russia

Driven in part by thriving cross-border e-commerce demand, DHL Global Forwarding expanded its Airfreight Plus service with the addition of Moscow and other Russian cities, bringing the total number of countries within its Airfreight Plus network to 54. Meanwhile, SF Express has designated Changchun as a key hub for cross-border shipments bound for Russia.DHL-SF tails feature

Airfreight Plus is a day-definite product, offering intra-Asia and intra-Europe door-to-door delivery of shipments up to two tonnes. DHLGF said it would complete the integration of the Russian cities into the network by “mid-2016,” with further expansion into the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) by the end of the year. The company said that a shift from overnight to “more economical distribution solutions” was driving increased demand for the Airfreight Plus product.

Russia’s cross-border e-commerce market continues to thrive, even as the economy as whole stagnates. According to a report in East-West Digital News, Russian cross-border e-commerce sales grew 55% year-over-year in 2015, to US $3.4 billion. During the same period, the share of these cross-border orders fulfilled by Chinese e-commerce companies continued to grow, reaching 80% in 2015.

DHL isn’t the only company setting its sights on Russia, as China’s express package delivery companies are also racing to enter the market. YTO Express Airlines identified Russia as a potential target for future flights, and its competitor, SF Express is already involved in significant cross-border operations. Last year SF launched a major Russia-focused export-hub out of Changchun’s Xinglong Comprehensive cross-border zone.  The zone’s preferential policies expedite export processing, bonded logistics, and cross-border distribution through the city’s overland port, and from Longjia International Airport. Xinhua reports that over 7,000,000 parcels were exported from Changchun in 2015, up 70% year-over-year, most of which were bound for Russia and other CIS countries.

SF currently charters cargo flights from Changchun to Estonia via Moscow, and has increased the frequency of its flights from one to three times weekly.  In the future, these flights will likely be operated in SF livery, but for the time being, Jinkai Xiang, SF’s deputy director, small parcel management, Russia said, Changchun remains a “very competitive trade lane” for serving e-commerce demand. From Estonia and Moscow, SF serves cities throughout Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia, and other countries. Xinglong Comprehensive Zone deputy director, Zhao Shuang added that Changchun is planning to expand charter flights “to the heart of Europe.”

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