On board the Antonov 124 aircraft were urgently needed medical supplies, including masks and ventilators, for this South African country that has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the German government has supplied more than 600 pallets of relief cargo, which has been flown to the area by Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Airlines. The AN-124 was loaded by PortGround, a subsidiary of Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG specialising in cargo and ramp handling. The operation was commissioned by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
Earlier this year Volga-Dnepr Group and Leipzig/Halle Airport have inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the aim to strengthen Humanitarian Hub at LEJ. “Not only do these flights demonstrate our commitment toward Humanitarian sector but also come as a logical step for further development of long-lasting strategic cooperation between LEJ and Volga-Dnepr Group“ emphasises Yulia Celetaria, the Global Healthcare Director for the Volga-Dnepr Group. “Our recent flights to Namibia, organized in cooperation with our customer Maersk, is one of the roadmap’s steps. Our flights to Namibia come the same week as we transport firefighting equipment to Greece and vaccine production machinery to India, which shows our readiness to support aid and relief sector.”
As part of the rescEU programme, also initiated by ECHO, there are plans to establish a new civil protection logistics centre at Leipzig/Halle Airport. The German Red Cross (DRK) will be setting up the site not far from the airport. The two partners also cooperated closely together on the flights’ preparation, enabling the action to pass off smoothly and rapidly.
Important hub for medical supplies
Alongside its regular passenger and freight traffic, Leipzig/Halle Airport also serves as a hub for medical relief supplies and protective equipment. In the first half of 2021, for example, in addition to regular air traffic, some 70 cargo charter flights were already handled, carrying millions of Covid-19 tests and PPE.
The EU and its member states have been setting up logistics centres to ensure that the populace remains properly supplied, even in a crisis. As well as being used to procure, store and maintain protective equipment, the centres can also act as a base for organising the distribution logistics.
As Europe’s fourth largest air cargo hub, the airport sustains important logistics and supply chains serving both industrial enterprises and the population. Altogether, some 60 cargo airlines fly in to the airport, operating a route network with more than 200 destinations around the world.