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December 2020

MANEUVERING THROUGH TURBULENT TIMES

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Covid-19 has been raging around the world for just under a year now and Cargolux was one of the first companies in Luxembourg to be confronted with the challenges of the pandemic.

Maxim Straus, CFO at Cargolux Airlines, explains “When the pandemic broke out in China early this year, our staff worked from home and we had to protect our flight crew with masks and restructure our network to avoid crew layovers in China and later also other parts in Asia that turned into Covid-19 hot spots.”

As the virus moved westward, so did lockdown measures, travel restrictions and the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  While passenger airlines heavily reduced their services, the air cargo market has had to go into overdrive as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the primary focus, especially during the initial phase, having shifted to operating flights for the relief efforts, the sector has had to manage a huge capacity crunch as airlines have largely stopped operating the bellyhold services which make up roughly 50% of cargo capacity. “We are still adapting our operation to meet customer requirements and at the same time to alleviate the vacuum created by the lack of bellyhold capacity on the market.” shares Straus.

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“We are still adapting our operation to meet customer requirements and at the same time to alleviate the vacuum created by the lack of bellyhold capacity on the market.”

Maxmim Straus, Cargolux Airlines

ALL HANDS ON DECK TO CONFRONT THE PANDEMIC

Cargolux played a crucial role in the supply chain throughout this global epidemic. The airline was heavily involved in the transportation of PPE and relief material in an effort to curb the spread of the virus in Europe. “We worked closely with the Luxembourg government to ensure the sourcing of adequate protective gear for the population. We also organised a charter operation to bring a temporary military ‘hospital’ to Luxembourg as well as several other charter flights to various destinations transporting essential supplies.” says Straus. In this way, Cargolux also had a major role in bringing PPE and mask deliveries to other countries. Operationally, these missions were very similar to everyday business. The main challenge, however, was to navigate the continuously changing travel restrictions throughout the global network.

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“We each play a very unique role and it is crucial that we look towards a common goal to improve current procedures.”

Maxim Straus, Cargolux Airlines

Cargolux generally strives to work closely with its partners in the industry to ensure smooth and seamless cargo transits, and the cooperation for these undertakings were no different. According to Straus, the key for a successful supply chain is to ensure open collaboration and transparency between all players in the field and establish procedures that take all stakeholders’ requirements into account. “We each play a very unique role and it is crucial that we look towards a common goal to improve current procedures.”

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE OF PREPARING FOR THE ANTIDOTE

While pharmaceutical laboratories are starting to obtain satisfactory results on vaccines to fight against Covid-19, the question of transport and logistics, in order to distribute vaccine doses all over the world, arises. One of the key points related to the vaccine is the special equipment that is required to transport it. To address these specific requirements, Cargolux has a transport solution dedicated to pharmaceutical and healthcare products, all of which meet strict standards. Moreover, Cargolux was the first freight airline in the world to obtain a Good Distribution Practice (GDP) qualification for transporting pharmaceuticals, a certification based on European Union GDP and World Health Organisation requirements for a consistent quality management system across the transportation process.

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We operate a fleet of 30 747 freighters that feature four independently controlled temperature zones that constitute a significant advantage for the transport of healthcare products.

Maxim Straus, Cargolux Airlines

In anticipation of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution, the cargo community at Luxembourg airport is preparing for various different logistics scenarios and following the latest developments to be fully ready once the process is launched. Cargolux has extensive experience in the transport of medical and pharmaceutical supplies and intends to build on these capabilities to transport the vaccine. We operate a fleet of 30 747 freighters that feature four independently controlled temperature zones that constitute a significant advantage for the transport of healthcare products.”

In addition to the independently controlled temperature zones that allow the transport of thermosensitive pharmaceutical products on the same flight with constant temperatures in each zone, the airline, in cooperation with its partner Dupont, has also developed a thermal blanket to improve temperature stability throughout the duration of the flight.

To determine the feasibility of transporting and distributing such high volumes and the requirements to do so within a tight timeframe, Cargolux is preparing the distribution alongside the entire supply chain, from shippers to customs, handling agents and carriers, to work together and ensure fast delivery when the time arises.