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Demystifying the multimodal transport of air cargo

by:VIPUTRANS     2020-07-16

At present, the global transportation of goods mainly includes land, sea, iron and air. As one of the important modes of transportation, civil aviation plays a very important role in multimodal transport. According to IATA statistics, although air transported goods are less than 1% of global trade in weight, they account for 35% of global trade in value. As far as air transport is concerned, the multimodal transport of goods mainly includes air-land transport, air-sea transport and air-rail transport. These three modes of transport are being deepened and developed in practice.

Air and land transport is becoming more and more mature

Air-to-land transport is a relatively mature form of intermodal transport related to multimodal transport of air freight, which is manifested in long-term operation, compatible equipment, convenient customs clearance, and smooth connection. In 2018, the Ministry of Transport drafted the 'Code of Practice for the Transshipment of Containerized Air-Ground Transport' (Draft for Comment), which defined the definition of air-land transport as multimodal transport completed by air and road transportation, including land transport There are two forms of aviation and air to land transportation. At the same time, it also stipulates the basic conditions of the truck flight operator of air-land combined container transshipment, the transport truck standard of intermodal container, the operation process of intermodal transportation, information provision and emergency handling requirements, etc. To the role of guidance and regulation.

There is a competitive relationship between air cargo and road transport. In 2018, the national highway mileage reached 4.847 million kilometers, and the road freight volume was 39.57 billion tons, accounting for about 76.8% of the national freight volume. With the continuous improvement of China's highway infrastructure, highways dominate the domestic express and short-distance transportation. Its main advantages include: First, low prices. At present, the truck transportation price from Tianjin to Shanghai is 0.4 yuan/g/kg to 0.6 yuan/kg, while the air transportation price is 1.2 yuan/kg to 1.3 yuan/kg, and the land transportation price is less than half of the air transportation price. The second is to solve the 'last mile' transportation problem. Land trucks can provide door-to-door transportation services, while air cargo is from airport to airport, and the 'last mile' depends on truck transportation.

Compared with road transportation, aviation has obvious advantages in transporting high value-added goods and long-distance transportation. However, the relationship between road transportation and air cargo is more supportive and complementary.

Truck flights play a key role in the 'one order to the end' of cargo air-land transportation. At present, my country's major air cargo hubs, such as Hong Kong Airport, Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Guangzhou Airport, Shenzhen Airport, etc., the main way to distribute the surrounding cargo is by truck flights. Air China Cargo, China Eastern Airlines, etc. have very mature truck flight business, supporting its cargo distribution at the hub airport. With the deepening of the cooperation between the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Greater Bay Area, Shenzhen and Hong Kong Airports have launched 'Shenzhen-Hong Kong Land-Air Combined Transport' products-cargo booking, security inspection, packing, grouping and other operations in Shenzhen, and transportation by truck flights Direct installation at Hong Kong Airport saves the time and capital cost of cargo storage, security inspection, packing or panel assembly in Hong Kong. It makes full use of Hong Kong Airport's international cargo route network and reduces the cargo operation pressure of Hong Kong Airport.

In addition to the relatively mature form of international cargo air-to-air transportation, truck flights, most air cargoes require land trucks for 'last mile' delivery. After all, air transportation is from airport to airport, and transportation from airport to customer is entirely dependent on trucks. Therefore, aviation has a strong dependence on land trucks. In turn, the distribution of air cargo is an important service component of land trucks. The two are interdependent and promote together.


Air-sea transportation is in full swing

In the traditional sense, people think that air transportation is the fastest transportation method, and sea transportation is the slowest transportation method. The target customers of the two are not easy to overlap, and the feasibility of air-sea combined transportation is very small. But in fact, air-sea combined transport has been in full swing. At present, the main form of air-sea combined transport is to transport the goods by ship to the international transit port, transport them by truck to the adjacent airport of the sea port, and then transport them to the destination by air.

Air-sea combined transport combines the characteristics of fast air speed, strong timeliness, large sea freight volume and low cost. It can organically combine goods with different transport volumes and different transport time limits. It is shorter than sea freight in time and lower in freight than air freight. , Effectively improve the timeliness. At present, the main air-sea combined transportation lines include major Chinese ports transported to Dubai, UAE, and international flights to Dubai via Dubai International Airport; major Chinese ports are transported to Incheon, South Korea, and international flights to Europe or the United States via Incheon International Airport. ; China’s major ports are transported by ship to Los Angeles or Miami, the United States, and to Central and South America by air; major foreign ports are transported by ship to China’s major ports, and are distributed to other domestic destinations in China via nearby hub airports. Take the air-sea combined transportation products from China to Africa via Dubai as an example. It takes 25 days to 42 days for the whole sea transportation to Africa, while the sea-air combined transportation takes only 15 days to 20 days, shortening the time by nearly half.

In recent years, with the fragmentation of trade and the rapid development of this new form of trade, cross-border e-commerce, overseas warehouses, bonded storage and other trade supervision methods have emerged. Large-volume, long-distance international cargo transportation uses sea transportation, combining small batches, The form of air-sea combined transportation by air transportation for distance transportation is more and more popular. At the same time, air-sea combined transportation can solve the problem of tight air freight direct flights in peak season; it can solve the problem of long shipping time or too high air transportation cost when the delivery is delayed; it can solve the problem of cargo transportation when the port is unstable and unsafe Problems, etc.

At present, air-sea combined transportation products are generally launched by freight forwarders with both sea and air transportation qualifications. Freight forwarders provide air-sea combined transportation schemes according to customers' routes, time limits, costs and other requirements. After signing a service agreement, they book sea and air freight cabins to provide air-sea combined transportation services. . Under normal circumstances, goods with a gross weight of more than 500 kg are suitable for air-sea combined transportation; the air freight price of goods not exceeding 500 kg is not much different from the air-sea combined transportation price, and most of them will choose air transportation.

The standard of loading equipment for sea transportation and air transportation is different. When air-sea combined transportation, it is necessary to replace the container equipment of each flight segment, which extends the time of air-sea combined transportation to some extent. In addition, factors such as the convenience of customs clearance, the capacity and the connection of cabins all have an impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of air-sea combined transportation.

Air-rail combined transportation starts to test water

In 2018, China's railway transportation volume was 4.03 billion tons, accounting for 7.8% of the national transportation volume. China's railway business mileage is 131,000 kilometers, of which high-speed rail business mileage is 29,000 kilometers. my country is the country with the longest high-speed rail mileage and the highest transportation density in the world. The “Mid-Long-Term Railway Network Planning” (2016-2025) clearly establishes the construction of eight longitudinal channels such as coastal, Beijing-Shanghai, and Beijing-Hong Kong (Taiwan) and eight horizontal channels such as Suman, Luqiao, and Yanjiang. The intercity railway is The supplementary high-speed railway network creates a 1-hour to 4-hour traffic circle between adjacent large and medium-sized cities. At present, the fastest operating speed of cargo sports cars can reach 350 kilometers per hour.

Since 2014, China Railway Corporation, the predecessor of China National Railway Group Co., Ltd., has launched high-speed rail express business. In June 2018, China Railway Express Co., Ltd., a direct holding company of China Railway Corporation, and Shenzhen SF Tyson Holdings (Group) Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of SF Express, jointly established China Railway SF Express International Express Co., Ltd., which is mainly engaged in high-speed rail express and express freight trains. Special logistics services. In January 2019, the cooperation between the two sides was further upgraded, and the Shanghai-Shenzhen Express train was opened for the first time. The rapid development of high-speed rail freight makes competition between civil aviation and high-speed rail within 4 hours. On the one hand, civil aviation should pay more attention to the development of air cargo transportation, and on the other hand, it should further strengthen the intermodal transportation with railways.

Air-rail combined transportation, in short, is the combined transportation of civil aviation and railway. The earliest air-rail combined transportation originated from passenger transportation. In 2012, many airlines such as China Eastern Airlines and Spring Airlines carried out air-rail combined transportation with Shanghai Railway Bureau; in 2014, Tianjin Airport launched the 'Jinjin into Beijing' and 'Jingjin out of Beijing' air-rail combined passenger transportation products. After years of exploration and practice of air-rail combined transportation, my country's passenger air-rail combined transportation has made great progress. With the deepening of multimodal transport, freight air-rail combined transport products are constantly emerging.

In August 2017, Sichuan Airport Group, Chengdu Railway Bureau, China Railway Express, Sichuan Airlines, SF Express and other units jointly launched the first air-rail intermodal freight product, and 'one order to the end, one box to the end'. The cargo received in Mianyang, Sichuan, arrived at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport through the 'Mianchengle' EMU, and then flew to Shanghai Pudong Airport on a Sichuan Airlines flight. The whole process of the cargo from receipt to transportation to boarding is within 4 hours, which is nearly twice as short as that of highway transshipment.

In September 2017, Sichuan Airport Group joined forces with the Chengdu Railway Bureau, China Railway Express, Sichuan Airlines, Sinotrans and other units to test-run the first cross-border air-rail intermodal freight product. The cargo arrives at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport via Sichuan Airlines flight from Hong Kong, China, and arrives at Mianyang by train. In September 2018, Sichuan Airport Group and Chengdu Railway Bureau formally operated a cross-border 'one order' cargo air-rail intermodal product. The cooperation of Sichuan Airport Group, Sichuan Airlines and Chengdu Railway Bureau, and China Railway Express is a new attempt of cooperation between civil aviation and railway freight transportation, breaking the traditional form of joint railway and civil aviation connecting highway, and a new form of air-rail combined freight has emerged. .

On May 10, 2018, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the China Railway Corporation signed the Strategic Cooperation Agreement for Promoting Air-Rail Intermodal Transportation. Both parties expressed the need to deepen cooperation in five areas: improving the infrastructure of air-rail combined transportation, innovating air-rail combined transportation products, improving the service level of air-rail combined transportation, expanding the information sharing of air-rail combined transportation, and promoting the demonstration project of air-rail combined transportation.

The air-rail combined transportation of my country's freight transportation is still in its infancy, and problems such as imperfect intermodal transportation facilities, non-sharing of information, and non-recognition of security checks are prominent. However, the signing of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement for Promoting Air-Rail Combined Transportation and the launch of air-rail combined transportation products have reserved a large space for the further innovation of cargo air-rail combined transportation. ('China Civil Aviation News', China Civil Aviation Network special contributor Chen Yanwei)


How to develop multimodal transport of air cargo

Usually multimodal transport can effectively link multiple transportation modes, improve the overall service level of the logistics industry, improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, my country's various transportation modes have developed independently for a long time, and there are great differences in legal basis, loading standards, pricing mechanisms, information systems, etc. The various transportation modes are not smoothly connected, which not only makes it difficult to improve the timeliness of transportation, but also often results in undesirable results that are time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly. Under such circumstances, how should we promote the development of multimodal transport?

One is to gradually transition from the initial stage of multimodal transport to the advanced stage of multimodal transport. At present, my country's multimodal transport is still in its infancy, as are air-land transport, air-sea transport and air-rail transport related to air cargo. The author believes that when promoting the development of multimodal transport, it is necessary to determine a staged goal, from the initial staged transportation to achieve an efficient connection and gradually transition to the advanced stage of 'one vote to the end', we can not expect to realize a transport body and a transport contract from the beginning , A document, a billing and an insurance.

Second, the air cargo hub should carry out multimodal transport according to local conditions. Multimodal transport has advantages such as a long industrial chain, high resource utilization rate, and good comprehensive benefits. It has gradually attracted the attention of many local governments and airports. However, not all air cargo hubs are suitable for the development of multimodal transport. Among the three types of multimodal transport related to air cargo, air-land transport is more versatile than air-rail transport and air-sea transport. Therefore, most air cargo hubs should deeply explore the potential of air-land combined transportation. Unlike air-land combined transport, air-rail combined transport and air-sea combined transport have higher requirements for hardware facilities. The air-rail combined transportation must rely on the effective connection between the airport and the high-speed rail station, and the cargo transfer process must be compact. The key factors such as distance, cost, and efficiency cannot be ignored for the so-called air-rail combined transportation. Air-sea combined transportation needs more congenital marine resources. The air freight hub should choose the mode of intermodal transportation according to its own situation and ensure the sustainability of intermodal transportation.

The third is to gradually realize the standardization of loading equipment, documents, security inspection and compensation. The main barriers to multimodal transport are the different laws and regulations based on various modes of transportation, the size and material standards of the loading equipment, the unified multimodal transport bills have not yet been issued, and the requirements for security inspection are even more obvious, and the goods are damaged or lost The compensation standards vary greatly. The author believes that the relevant civil aviation departments should work together with the highway, railway, marine and other administrative departments to strive to achieve the standardization and integration of multimodal transport freight products in transportation equipment, documents, security inspection, compensation and other aspects.

The fourth is to gradually build a multimodal transport information platform. The establishment of a unified, open and transparent information platform that can be used by all parties to the intermodal transportation and related customers to query the status of cargo transportation at any time is an important link in the development of multimodal transportation. Most air cargo operators have information systems for customers to query, but they are basically in a state of fragmentation and lack a unified information platform. With the accelerated optimization of the industrial layout, the increasingly close regional cooperation, the widespread application of emerging technologies, and the accelerated promotion of intermodal products, the multimodal information platform has become more necessary and feasible. On the basis of striving for the unification of the civil aviation cargo information system, gradually build a unified cargo air-land, air-sea and air-rail intermodal information platform. The construction of the multimodal transport information platform will help promote the cultivation of multimodal transport carriers, the booking of intermodal carrier spaces and the efficient connection of various modes of transportation.

The fifth is to improve the customs clearance environment of multimodal transport. Regardless of whether it is air-land combined transport, air-rail combined transport or air-sea combined transport, the efficiency of multimodal transport of goods is closely related to the customs transit process, supervision methods, and document processing. The increasing improvement of truck flights has benefited from the strong support of the customs for air-ground combined transportation. However, air-sea combined transport and air-rail combined transport, which are still in the groping stage, require the customs to continuously innovate the supervision business. On the one hand, they promulgated unified supervision regulations, and on the other hand, they formulated the regulations for supervision operation. This not only ensures the effective supervision of multimodal transport goods, but also shortens the customs clearance time of intermodal goods, and promotes the rapid development of multimodal transport freight business.

Sixth, all parties jointly promote the development of multimodal transport. Air-rail combined transportation and air-sea combined transportation need to be actively promoted by civil aviation, railway, and shipping related parties, but also require the attention of the municipal management highway department. After all, all air-sea combined transportation products and some air-rail combined transportation products must be connected by road. On the basis of the 'Code of Practice for Transshipment of Air-Land Combined Cargo Containers', we strive to draft as soon as possible the code of practice for air-sea combined cargo and air-land combined cargo to provide a legal basis for the rapid development of multimodal transport.
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