Air freight avoids serious disruption from ash cloud
While a cloud of ash spewing from a Chilean volcano has disrupted commercial flights, stranding thousands of passengers in South America and as far away as New Zealand and Australia, the air freight industry has not been badly affected, according to UPS.
“The Chilean volcano has not caused any issues in the UPS Asia-Pacific network,” UPS spokesperson Mike Mangeot told the Handy Shipping Guide. “We have, however, experienced minor service disruptions in South America. We continue to monitor the situation and will move the volume as soon as it is safe to do so.”
In early June, a volcano in Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle mountain chain erupted, sending ash eastward that cancelled hundreds of flights amid fears of the ash cloud that had stretched over 6,000 miles.
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While South America’s air freight and commercial flight industry has come back on line, Australia is still suffering from the effects of the volcanic ash. Flights to Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle and other airports have been cancelled today due to the ash cloud, which will probably have an effect on the air freight industry on the continent as well.
“Airservices and meteorologists are closely monitoring a new ash cloud with the potential to seriously impact travel in much of south-east Australia in the next 12-48 hours,” The Australian Airservices said in a statement. “A large number of flights are expected to be disrupted over the coming days.”
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.