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Shipping delays threaten to disrupt Christmas ‘padala’

07 November 2021

By The SUN

AFreight still hopes to stick to its advertised Christmas schedule

If you are planning to send gifts to the Philippines for Christmas through door-to-door delivery, better make your move now.

This is the advice of two of the most trusted cargo companies servicing Filipinos in Hong Kong, amid unpredictable shipping schedules that have already held up their deliveries from between 12 to14 days.

According to Rosabelle Woolf, country manager of AFreight, her company’s shipments which were originally set to leave Hong Kong on Oct 25 could not leave until Nov 6 because of port congestion which appears to happen worldwide.

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She remains hopeful the deadlines they set for Christmas deliveries across the Philippines could still be met, but she advises customers not to take their chances.

“We will review the current situation with the Manila office. It seems the port congestion problem is worldwide. Shipping lines opted to the United States because of the higher freight charges and naiipit doon ang containers (the containers are held up there)”, she said.

A Filipina resident who recently arrived back in Hong Kong from the United Kingdom supported Woolf’s observation. She said she was told that a kitchen appliance that she had meant to ship to the Philippines from London last month would not make it in time for Christmas.


The same is true in the U.S., she said, but added another dimension to the problem.

Grabe sa LA and UK – up to four months daw ang delay kasi walang pumapasok na container truck drivers,” she said. (It’s really bad in LA and UK, where the delay could last up to four months because the container truck drivers do not show up for work).

But Cora Ong, director of Asian Dragon Door to Door Company, said the back-up was also due to Typhoon Kompasu’s erratic passage through Hong Kong on Oct. 13, which caused signal no 8 to be raised for more than 24 hours.

Ong says that a 2-week allowance be given to be on safe side

The havoc from the typhoon, compounded by the seasonal congestion at the Port of Manila, caused delays in ship-call schedules in Hong Kong, she said.

Ong advised workers who are planning to send boxes to families back home to expect delays of at least two weeks so that they won’t get disappointed if the boxes are not received on time.

“There’s no congestion at Hong Kong port, but it is the erratic arrival schedules of ships that are causing the delay. There’s nothing we can do because the situation is beyond our control,” said Ong.


She said when the typhoon approached Hong Kong on Oct 13, many shipping companies cancelled their port calls while others delayed their arrival.

For instance, a shipping company would advise Ong that its vessel was arriving to pick up the containers in two days. So, Asian Dragon would stuff customers’ boxes into the containers and prepare them for loading onto the vessel at Kwai Chung.

But the promised arrival date was sometimes moved back by two days or more, further delaying the loading of the containers onto the vessel.


Ong said the weekly loading of containers sometimes gets delayed for a full week due to the chaotic shipping schedule. If that happens, the batch’s departure from Hong Kong is overtaken by the next scheduled loading, so the two batches are shipped out together.

“We can no longer tell our customers the expected delivery day of their boxes at the consignees’ homes,” Ong said. “No promises. We will try our best, (but) we cannot promise on-time delivery.”

With Christmas nearing, Ong said Manila port is getting seasonally congested. The only upside is the improved facilities there are speeding up the release by Customs of cargos at both the Asian Terminals on South Harbor and the Manila International Container Port on North Harbor.

The stored items for packing have been piling up ahead of the Christmas cut-offs

To be on the safe side, Asian Dragon, like all other cargo companies in Hong Kong have already moved up their Christmas cut-off dates to ensure the “padala” from the Filipino migrant workers here would reach their families on time.



“The cut-off date for Metro Manila-bound Christmas boxes is Nov 7,” said Ong. But she wanted to make it known that this would not stop her company from accepting door-to-door boxes after that date as what some of her customers had thought.

“It just means that if the boxes are sent out after this date, it is not likely that they would get to the recipients by Christmas,” she said.


Ong said business this year appears to have picked up compared with last year, as Hong Kong has been able to rein in the coronavirus epidemic.

She said business was bad last year because Covid-19 was at its worst and Hong Kong people who were wary of how the contagion would play out opted to stay at home. As a consequence, many employers also tried to keep their domestic helpers at home even during their rest days, causing a significant drop in shipment volumes. 

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