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Cargo is being diverted away from Shanghai Pudong (PVG) and clogging up alternate airports as the fight against COVID-19 rages on in China. As congestion mounts in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, none have been hit as hard as Zhengzhou (CGO) where delays are causing a backlog of cargo compounded by the two-week lockdown that went into effect this past weekend. 


Not only are the airports in China struggling under the thunderous amount of cargo that is typically served by PVG, but with factories closing to follow lockdown orders and trucks dealing with road and quarantine procedures, the outlook for summer logistics is growing murkier by the day. Eventually, the factory closures will cause a dip in air freight quantities, freeing up capacity and allowing the smaller airports to gain ground against the deluge, but currently, the mess is barely managed by scrambling forwarders fighting the most stringent lockdown requirements since the inception of the pandemic. 


In addition to the air freight issues in China, ocean cargo shipments are finding problems, especially for reefer boxes as there are no plugs left in Shanghai so cargo is being diverted or left on vessels so produce is protected from temperature excursions. Approximate dwell times are up 75% and 90% of truck capacity is out of service due to the road and port restrictions. 


If there is a bright side to this situation, however brief it will be; the US ports that are suffering under extreme congestion – much like in China, overflow from US west coast ports is now clogging up the east coast – will have a brief reprieve to play catch up before the Chinese cargo starts flowing full stream. Each of the waiting vessels will be soon headed to other ports, bringing the mountain of cargo back out across the ocean and further straining the supply chain – right in time for labor negotiations on the west coast this summer. 


We’ve been closely monitoring the situation since the lockdown began, but considering it was only supposed to last one week, then two, and we’re moving into the fourth week, the delays aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. For the last two years, we’ve been reminding our clients that it would be a smart move to look into sourcing options outside of China, where pandemic restrictions seem to bubble up right at the worst time. 


If you’re concerned about your cargo and the delays and diversions happening in China, contact your Edward J. Zarach representative to discuss the options we have on deck to keep your cargo moving. We’re here to help during this trying time.