1,260 Chartered Flights — Alibaba’s Cainiao is Driving Cross-Border Trade

Expanding international chartered flights globally to establish greater control over air freight and increase delivery efficiency

Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

Prior to the pandemic, many of us wouldn’t have thought twice about the intricate network that connects countries and powers the movement of a myriad range of goods that effectively creates a borderless world. Someone living in a remote part of Europe can enjoy local produce from another part of the world without ever having to step foot outside their house; A small business is able to source for price-competitive supplies from across the world; Or a local factory producing items for large multinationals serving millions of end consumers.

The list is endless but succinctly, we live in a globalized world with boundless opportunities facilitated by the increasing accessibility of cross-border logistics — the backbone of a digital economy.

However, all these conveniences and opportunities were abruptly disrupted when the pandemic hit the world. All of a sudden, trade came to a standstill and supply chains were affected. Factories were unable to get their manufacturing supplies and end products were unable to reach consumers.

Months into the pandemic and we are in a phase of a new norm. However, air, rail and sea freight are still less predictable and lower in frequency. This inevitably meant unstable deliveries which can also take longer to ship.

At Cainiao, we recognize that having direct control over these channels would prove to be vital in instilling freight stability globally.

In order to do so, we are ramping up investments in creating a global logistics network. One of which is to more than quadruple our chartered flights from 260 to 1,260 over the next nine months to improve logistics efficiency.

Since the announcement in June, we have launched or expanded our chartered flights in the following routes, in addition to the existing routes connecting Chinese cities with Liege, Riga, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Sao Paulo and Santiago.

1) Moscow-China

Photo by Michael Parulava on Unsplash

To better support the growth of AliExpress and the needs of businesses and consumers in Russia, we have ramped up operations to Russia with the introduction of flights from Hong Kong to Moscow.

This will half the delivery time for electronic appliances such as smartphone and tablets from 30 days to 15 days.

2) Spain-China

Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

From August, three weekly flights will run between Hong Kong and Madrid via Belgium’s Liege Airport, and this is expected to accelerate the delivery time of merchandise from China to Europe by 30 per cent.

All goods shipped through the new route will arrive at warehouses in Europe in three to 10 days, versus the industry average of 15 to 20 days.

The expedited delivery time is thanks in part to Cainiao’s line-haul network. The company’s intra-Europe trucking network taps advanced algorithms to generate the most-efficient loading plans and transportation routes for its fleet, as well as the optimal number of trucks to deploy in real time. The network connects the warehouses and transport hubs in Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

3) Singapore-China

Inauguration ceremony for the SG-HZ flight in August 27 2020

With the eCommerce boom in Southeast Asia, Cainiao is ramping up infrastructure in the region to fuel its continued growth. The introduction of four weekly chartered flights between China and Singapore, together with the overseas warehouses and other infrastructure will help to create a more seamless and cost-effective logistics solution for eCommerce merchants, which in turn delivers more cost savings, greater convenience and a better experience for consumers. This will provide more stability due peak sale season and ensure that customer experience remains optimal.

This new air freight route opens the doors for more value-added services down the road such as the availability of delivery time slots for consumers to choose from, assembly of goods upon delivery, goods returns etc.

SMEs in Singapore or the region could also benefit from the opportunity to sell into a wider Chinese market, without having to worry about complex cross-border shipping processes.



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Cainiao Network

Cainiao Network


The logistics arm of Alibaba Group. Follow us for content on smart logistics and supply chain management