A new era for the Silk Road begins… but is there room for air cargo?

The ancient Silk Road was a network of trade routes stretching from China to the heart of Ancient Greece.

Along these busy thoroughfares livestock, grain, medicine and trading goods like silk, were carried across continents. In 2013, this ancient trade route was brought back to life when Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the construction of a modern iteration, called the One Belt, One Road initiative, due for completion in 2049.

China is the world’s leading exporter, the largest partner for EU imports and second largest for EU exports. Xi’s grand vision is to better connect China by land and sea with Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

But could there be a third dimension to the belt and road supply chain? With air cargo accounting for 35 per cent of world trade by value, it offers the quickest and most secure way of getting high value consignments from China to the world.

IAG Cargo is part of the engine that carries commodities from Asia Pacific to the world, ranging from fidget spinners to smartphones and electronics. Just like on the ancient Silk Road, we also carry vital medicines – specialist pharmaceuticals that rely on our Constant Climate product, which protects their integrity in temperature-controlled containers while in transit.

From East to West and back again, IAG Cargo flies direct to three destinations across China – Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong – 34 times weekly. Air cargo plays a key role in satisfying demand for e-commerce express delivery, particularly during calendar events such as China’s “Single’s Day”, which last year, brought in nearly US$18 billion worth of goods in just one day.

With huge volumes at play, the One Belt, One Road initiative promises to continue the Silk Road’s trade legacy, with air freight driving even greater demand for routes to and from Asia.