Covid-19 cases among staff, CNY holiday leads to cargo stall at Changi Airport

SINGAPORE – A triple whammy of Covid-19 infections among airport staff, an increase in shipments and the Chinese New Year holiday have led to severe delays in handling cargo at Changi Airport terminals , generally effective.

Containers that typically take hours to process have taken days over the past two weeks, freight forwarders said.

In a statement to the Straits Times on Saturday February 5, a spokesperson for Sats, Changi Airport’s main ground handler for air cargo, confirmed the cargo backlog.

This was caused by increased cargo shipments ahead of the Chinese New Year, lower volume of cargo picked up by agents due to the Chinese New Year holiday, and disruption to normal deployment levels caused by the infection of Covid-19.

It also confirmed that there was a positive polymerase chain reaction test among its 240 cargo import workers and several other positive tests using rapid antigen tests.

“The importation of cargo is the only operation affected by the delay, while all other ground handling operations, including passenger services and aircraft handling, are operating normally.

“Sats has deployed additional personnel from other parts of its operations to mitigate the situation and 70% of the backlog has already been cleared,” the spokesperson said.

He added that he expects cargo import operations to return to normal by February 8.

Concerned freight forwarders had written to ST saying the backlog had caused delays in delivering imported goods, from electronics to books, to traders.

Vessels waiting for urgent parts sent by airfreight are also stuck in Singapore ports, while others remain late to receive their shipment, they said.

Videos taken inside and outside Sats terminals show pallets of unopened goods stacked outside the usual storage areas.

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