History repeating in Guangzhou

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Today a major trade and transportation hub, Guangzhou has held on to its traditional Chinese ambiance. With the launch of a seasonal route between Guangzhou and Helsinki, Finnair Cargo follows its long tradition of connecting Asia and Europe.

One thousand years before Hong Kong grabbed the world’s attention as a frenetic, neon-drenched entrepôt of commerce and industry, The Old Book of Tang – an ancient account of life in China’s Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) – described Panyu as an important port on the "Maritime Silk Road" that linked China with the Middle East and Europe through trade. 

Today, Panyu is a district of the prosperous city of Guangzhou. Located on the Pearl River in southern China, just 120 kilometers northwest of Hong Kong, the city was perfectly positioned to benefit when the People’s Republic began to liberalize its economy in the late 1970s, rapidly becoming a manufacturing base attracting migrant labor from across the nation. 

“Guangzhou is a booming port city and one of China's leading manufacturing and transportation hubs,” says Rain Guo, Guangzhou sales manager at Finnair Cargo’s local Global Sales Agent, JPK Express China.

“Best known as the industrial engine behind the country's economic growth, Guangzhou has stood at the forefront of [China’s] reforms, making it an ideal place for travelers to understand our rich history.”

Blooms and booms 

Formerly known as Canton, sometimes nicknamed the “City of Flowers” and the capital of Guangdong province, Guangzhou’s urban population now hovers at around 13 million, making it China’s third largest city. According to Chinese state statistics, the GDP of Guangdong – one of China's wealthiest provinces – exceeded 1 trillion US dollars in 2014, surpassing that of the Netherlands. 

To offer faster service to customers with shipments to and from Guangzhou area, Finnair Cargo will introduce a seasonal route between the Chinese city and Helsinki from May 6, 2016, making Guangzhou the carrier's sixth destination in Greater China. The route will be flown four times weekly with Airbus A330 aircraft, and it will continue until October 29.

Diverse shipments

According to Guo, the move represents a major opportunity for Finnair Cargo. In recent years, Finnair has serviced the route via a sales and purchase agreement (SPA) offering partner-operated connecting flights, which carried cargo from Guangzhou to Tokyo Narita before connecting with Finnair aircraft. 

“Our average loading was 10 tons per month under the SPA program,” says Guo. “With the new service, our loading plan will be around 12,000 kilograms per flight, or roughly 200 tons per month.” 

Being the heart of the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone that also includes Shenzhen and Dongguan, Guangzhou boasts an extremely diverse manufacturing sector, making everything from clothing and toys to home appliances and furniture. That has been reflected in shipments, too.

“Most of the cargo we have handled has been electronic products and garments, but we have also shipped shoes, skis, fishing rods, and automotive. Electronics and garments will continue to be our main target when the new service starts in May,” says Guo.

Potential for growth

Though the route does hold challenges, mostly from strong and varied competition, with numerous airlines providing customers with many options for their shipments, Guangzhou’s consistent performance as an exporter of manufactured goods could see a year-round operation being introduced in the near future. 

"Guangzhou represents an exciting opportunity to expand our Asian network and boost traffic in coming years," says Tomi Asikainen, Finnair Cargo’s sales director for Asia. 

"Like Guangzhou itself, Finnair Cargo has a long tradition of connecting Asia and Europe, and we look forward to providing reliable, efficient, and timely connections to more than 60 destinations via our Helsinki hub." 

Text by Gary Jones
Photo by iStock

 

Published February 29, 2016

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo

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