COSCO Shipping Lines, the China COSCO group’s container liner unit, has been working with China Post to deliver letters on its vessels, in an arrangement that began on 10 April 2020.
As airlines have slashed flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic, China Post, the Chinese postal service, is substituting surface mail for air mail. While acknowledging that surface mail is slower, China Post said post is accumulating due to the shortage of flights and sea transits offer an alternative solution.
In one such service, the 20,000TEU COSCO Shipping Virgo departed from Shanghai’s Shengdong International Container Terminal on 27 April, with 12FEU of letters and parcels among its cargoes. The containers were transhipped in Piraeus, Greece, and finally sent to Israel’s Haifa port.
COSCO Shipping Virgo is the fifth mega container ship in COSCO Shipping Lines’ fleet to participate in the surface mail service, which began with vessels delivering letters and parcels from Shanghai to Japan and New Zealand.
Currently, the COSCO-China Post service also transports mail from Shanghai to other Chinese ports, as well as to the US, Canada, Chile and Brazil.
Even as demand for air travel is depressed, rising demand for medical equipment and personal protection equipment is keeping postal services and logistics providers busy.
China Post stated that with more consumers ordering goods online, airlines’ sharp reduction of flights has resulted in logistical bottlenecks. This so-called “air to sea” model is a suitable alternative due to the low unit costs and the assurance of cargo space. As posted items are not usually subject to export duties, these tend to pass through the customs’ green channel soon after arriving at their destination.