Wuhan, the capital city of Central China’s Hubei Province, opened its first direct air cargo route to Osaka, Japan, to meet medical supply and other export demands as the city recovers from the COVID-19 outbreak.
The flight was chartered by local e-commerce platform Dadao Zhongcai, and operated by China’s private airline Okair.
“Demand is accelerating for outbound cargo transport in China, including both pandemic prevention materials and other regular goods,” said Okair cargo business manager Luo Zhaohui, to the Global Times on Sunday.
Given that cargo transport demand has recovered faster than passenger transport, Okair decided to temporarily transform its passenger jets to cargo planes amid the pandemic, Luo said.
About 50 percent of cross-border cargo has been transported by cargo holds on passenger jets, which have been drastically reduced since the pandemic.
The Osaka route is Okair’s first “passenger to cargo” service, and similar plans are underway in Central China’s Hunan Province and East China’s Shandong Province as domestic production steadily resumes, according to Luo.
Wuhan was the hardest-hit city in China by COVID-19 and was under lockdown for over two months, beginning in late January. After almost one month since the lockdown was lifted, Wuhan has rapidly resumed production and overseas trade.
About 99 percent of industrial enterprises above designated size in Wuhan had resumed operations by Friday, according to media reports.
Pandemic prevention supplies are waiting to be delivered overseas from Wuhan-based medical firms. Since Wuhan reopened in April, 12 international air cargo routes have resumed to Sydney, Australia, London, UK, and New York City in the US, according to Changjiang Daily.
Other than direct cargo flights, the first international cargo water route in China’s Yangtze River reopened on Saturday, traveling from Wuhan to Japan. The first container ship left port on Saturday and is expected to arrive in Kobe, Japan, on Thursday, with berth scheduled for Osaka and Nagoya, reported Changjiang Daily.