A Silk Road alternative to air cargo?

With fuel prices hovering at an all-time high affecting airfreight movements between China and Europe, the Russians are promoting a much cheaper alternative, albeit slower, to move airfreight goods between China and Europe.

Speaking on the topic “Silk Road ¨C Alternative to TransSiberian Railway?” at the Transport Logistic China 2008 conference held in Shanghai recently, Sergey Stanovkin, director of DARS Consulting, said as there is talk of businesses considering sea-air movements for airfreight goods, so why not consider road and rail services between the two regions.

“In mid-September this year, we will start three trucking routes whose distance will be between 5,000-7,000 kilometres, just one quarter of the sea route from China to Europe,” said Igor Runov, director of IRU CIS InternationalRoad Transport Union.

Th e southern route will be between Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, while the central route will cover Western China, Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and European countries.

The northern route will be between China, Kazakhstan, Russia and European countries. Runov claims that trucking the cargo will take 10-12 days in summer and 15-16 days in winter, givinga highly competitive alternative to the present costly airfreight solutions inthe market.

Eleven new CASS operations were launched in 2007 according to IATA, which says they have reduced settlement costs by 47 per cent since 2003. In the next twelve months it plans to roll out CASS for exports in India, Taiwan, and Israel, and for imports in Australia and Singapore, while China will get a CASS settlement systems for domestic traffic.