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INDUSTRY FOCUSAIRFREIGHT


Air Partner loads relief goods destined for victims of the Mozambique cyclone disaster in March.


Dealing with catastrophe


Ian Putzger highlights the lengths that carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and aid agencies go to in order to deliver critical cargoes to disaster zones. Needless to say, the pressure is high and the complexities vast.


3million others in need of aid, charter brokers prepared for the inevitable flurry of calls requesting freighters to rush disaster relief to the area. However, little happened for nearly a week, recalled Mike Hill, director, group freight at Air Partner. Once the relief effort got under way, Air


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Partner and other brokers were in overdrive as demand for freighter flights to Mozambique went through the roof. Air Charter Service (ACS) moved almost


500 tonnes of aid materials as well as 100 doctors. One flight carried an entire field


www.heavyliftpfi.com


hen tropical cyclone Idai struck Mozambique and neighbouring countries in early March, killing at least 700 people and leaving


hospital, including X-ray machines. “We did about 15 flights up to March 28


– from Europe, the USA, Canada and the Middle East,” reported Pierre van der Stichele, group cargo operations director at Chapman Freeborn. How quickly relief flights take off depends


Often the challenges we have are performance related. For us, it is mainly about the length and strength of the runway and the area to park aircraft. – Graham Witton, Antonov Airlines


on how long it takes the aid organisations on the ground to get a picture of the situation. Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) had a disaster response team on the ground in Port-au-Prince within 48 hours after hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October 2016. When typhoon Yutu devastated Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands last October, an AN-124 freighter from Antonov Airlines brought in supplies the next day, thanks to preparations that started a day before the typhoon reached the island.


Challenges The state of the airport closest to the afflicted area is a key factor. In the case of Mozambique, Beira presented challenges. The city was without power for days. Owing to the strength of the airport’s runway, Antonov Airlines could not carry more than 65 tons (58.9 tonnes) on the flight, according to managing director Graham Witton. “Often the challenges we have are


performance related. For us, it is mainly about the length and strength of the runway and the area to park aircraft,” he said. One of the obstacles for other operators at


Beira was that the airport did not have a high loader, which made it impossible to unload widebody freighters like the B747 or 777. Only cargo planes that had their own loading system could operate until Antonov Airlines flew in a high loader provided by the UK government. The decision about which airports are


used is often made by aid agencies or local governments; the routing is up to the broker


May/June 2019 117


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