Eastern promises in Shanghai


Acknowledged internationally for its professionalism, customer-oriented approach and ability to respond rapidly and flexibly to diverse demands, Shanghai Pudong International Cargo Terminal gets busy before sunrise. 

Shanghai Pudong International Cargo Terminal (PACTL), located at Pudong International Airport (PVG) in China’s most dynamic and glamorous city, is among the top five facilities of its kind worldwide in terms of handling volume. Founded in 1999, PACTL today serves 48 international and domestic airlines, as well as approximately 240 forwarding agents, according to senior marketing spokesperson Karen Wang.

“By May 2014, PACTL employed 2,224 people,” Wang points out enthusiastically. “In 2013, PACTL handled approximately 1.3 million tons of cargo at PVG, and an average 320 flights per day.”

With the cutting-edge facility operating around the clock, Wang says there is no such thing as a typical day at work. “PACTL offers 24/7 services for inbound and outbound flights and freighters, so it’s very hard to say how an average day begins. Our production department is on duty around the clock.”

Partners in cargo with Finnair

Working days for Finnair Cargo’s frontline staff, who function on the ground at PACTL, start extremely early to facilitate the movement of cargo between Shanghai and Helsinki. That cargo, on the whole, is dominated by mobile phones, notebook computers and other high-tech goods. PACTL itself also boasts one of most technologically advanced cargo-handling software systems operating anywhere on the planet.

“All final cargo figures must be ready four hours before flight departure. Finnair flight AY058’s departure time is 9:20 a.m., so my work starts at about 5 a.m.,” says Finnair Cargo’s operation supervisor Eric Liu, who has worked with the company for eight productive years. 

Liu’s responsibilities include monitoring loading and offloading procedures alongside handling partners to ensure that capacity is optimized. “A major responsibility is to check if ground handling built all pallets according to Finnair’s instructions, and that cargo figures are accurate,” he says.

Operation agent David Liu, who has seven years under his belt with Finnair Cargo, and who supervises ground handling agents to ensure that the company’s strict safety and quality procedures are observed, is also active before sunrise. “I wake up at 4:20 a.m., drive 50 minutes to the airport office, and start work at 5:30 a.m.,” he says. 

Rising to everyday challenges 

“Every day is different,” insists Eric Liu, “and new situations arise all the time. We face new challenges daily.” As an example, he cites the limitations on cargo capacity of the A330 aircraft on the Shanghai-Helsinki route when passenger numbers are high. 

“Cargo capacity can change greatly due to weather and other factors, and changes can occur at the last minute,” says Liu. “So, on the one hand, we need to maximize cargo capacity, but we cannot overestimate, and on the other hand we need to keep things simple to make the best use of manpower and keep costs down. It’s an issue of balance.”

Karen Wang says that PACTL is also facing challenges due to the changing social and economic factors particular to China. However, she adds that PACTL’s high standards are reflected in hard facts and figures, and that its market share grew from 36.58 percent in 2009 to 45.5 percent in 2013. 

“Our customers’ average satisfaction rating of 4.67 out of a maximum five indicates that PACTL is fulfilling its quality promise,” she says.

Text by Gary Jones
Photo by iStock



Published June 10, 2014

Category: Local features