China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines, on Monday, has suspended all its cargo flights to India for the next 15 days. Apart from causing a major deal of disruption for EXIM players, this move might also prove to be a roadblock for private traders who are trying to procure oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from China.
In a letter to the sales agents on Monday, the Sichuan Chuanhang Logistics Co Ltd., the cargo subsidiary company of Sichuan Airlines, said that the airline has suspended its cargo flights on six routes, including Xian to Delhi.
In the letter, the company said: “In the face of sudden change in the epidemic situation (in India), in order to reduce the number of imported cases, it is decided to suspend the flights for the next 15 days.
“Indian route has always been the core strategic route for Sichuan Airlines. This suspension has also caused great losses to our company. We are very sorry for the unchanged situation”, the letter said and sought the “understanding of its sales agents”, it said. The letter also said the company will review the situation after 15 days.
There have also been complaints of Chinese manufacturers jacking up the prices by 35 to 40 per cent. The freight charges have been increased to over 20 per cent, Siddharth Sinha of Sino Global Logistics, a Shanghai-based freight forwarding company.
According to Sinha, Sichuan Airlines’ decision to cancel flights has caused severe disruption to attempts by private traders in both countries to secure quick supplies of the oxygen concentrators to rush to India in view of the dire situation.
Now it becomes very challenging to rush the supplies as they have to be rerouted through Singapore and other countries through different airlines, which delays the much-needed supplies, he said.
A surprising and contradictory decision
The suspension of flights came as a surprise to Indian officials here as it came in the backdrop of official statements of Beijing offering support and assistance to India.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian told a media briefing on April 23 that China is in communication with India to provide necessary support and assistance.
“China expresses sincere sympathies to India over the deteriorating situation in the country recently,” he said.
The suspension of cargo flights came as a surprise to agents and freight forwarders who are frantically trying to procure the oxygen concentrators from China.
The Chinese cargo flights besides the shipping services have been operational throughout the pandemic rushing supplies of lucrative mobile phone equipment as well as a lot of other Chinese exports to India.