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Chinese fast fashion boom causes air cargo disruption

image credit: Temu

The rapid expansion of Chinese fast fashion companies such as Shein, Temu, Alibaba, and TikTok is causing significant disruption to global air cargo operations.

According to Cargo Facts Consulting data, these companies collectively ship over 10,000 tonnes of goods daily, equivalent to about 108 Boeing 777 freighters.

Their business models, focused on speed and frequent product turnover, have led to an unprecedented demand for air freight, overwhelming traditional carriers. This surge in demand has resulted in increased competition for cargo space, leading to higher prices and delays, industry insiders revealed to Reuters.

Basile Ricard, director of Greater China operations at freight forwarder Bollore Logistics, highlighted that the impact of shipment demand from Chinese e-commerce companies currently outweighs disruptions in the Red Sea shipping route.

Experts warn that this model of airborne e-commerce is unsustainable both environmentally and financially. Wang Yongqiang, founder of transportation media firm Baixiao, emphasized that the growth of long-distance freighters cannot keep pace with the expansion of cross-border e-commerce.

Boeing’s market report from the previous year estimated that China’s air cargo fleet would triple between 2022 and 2042, indicating a significant shift in global air cargo dynamics due to the burgeoning Chinese fast fashion industry.