New cargo flight builds bonds with Russia

Updated: 2013-12-06 07:52

By Zhou Huiying (China Daily)

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New cargo flight builds bonds with Russia

Workers load the cargo plane before its departure from Harbin Taiping International Airport on Nov 26. Niu Xianda / For China Daily

A plane carrying a full load of cargo departed from Harbin Taiping International Airport and arrived at Yekaterinburg, Russia on Nov 26.

This marked the official launch of the cargo-only route from Harbin to Russia.

The special flight made Yulia, a Russian woman who married a Chinese eight years ago, really happy.

"My friends in Russia like Chinese food and clothes very much. They often ask me to buy some and post to them. But usually the delivery takes a lot of time, and the food will turn bad," she said, adding that "now the flight has greatly shortened the travel time, which can solve my problem."

Last December, the city government of Harbin made more overtures to building Sino-Russian trade cooperation, with developing exclusive cargo flights among the major measures.

After spending nearly half a year locating partners and negotiating, the Harbin government finally chose Russia's Ural Airlines as the carrier.

The initiative was implemented in two stages - a pilot run of cargo/passenger flights and the operation of cargo-only flight.

Since the pilot stage began in the middle of this year, three flights from Harbin to Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk had transported a total of 60 tons of goods by the end of October.

The cargo-only flight from Harbin to Yekaterinburg starting last month became the first one of its kind in China that serves Sino-Russian trade.

The city government of Harbin is also responsible for attracting freight-forwarding companies from both Russia and China.

For this purpose, the government introduced a range of incentives, including subsidies to both the carrier and freight forwarding agents.

To date, about 20 Russian freight-forwarding and logistics enterprises have opened operations in Harbin.

A renowned domestic company serving Sino-Russian trade - the Beijing Sino-Russian International Freight Forwarding Agent Ltd - has registered a branch company in Harbin and announced that it will move its headquarters from Beijing to Harbin.

A focus of the company's operation in Harbin is to supply goods to the Harbin-Yekaterinburg cargo flight.

The launch of the flight is an unprecedented event in Sino-Russian trade and a significant move by the Harbin government toward transforming into a service-oriented government, said industry insiders.

Because the route has substantially shortened transportation times, more companies engaged in cross-border trade will build a presence in Harbin, bringing in more investment and job opportunities, insiders say.

"In the past, we had to transport our goods from Harbin to Russia through railways or highways, which can cost up to 60 days," said Wang Lijie, an executive at the Harbin-based Jiahong Jieyun Freight Forwarding Co.

"Now the transfer time has been greatly reduced by the cargo flight."