Volga-Dnepr and Geodis partner on 48 An-124 flights

By Damian Brett

June 30 Volga-Dnepr Airlines An-124 crew on the arrival to Vatry of the last flight

Volga-Dnepr recently teamed up with freight forwarder Geodis to complete 48 An-124 flights carrying medical supplies to France.

The freighter operator said the flights took place within a 90-day period between April and June delivering urgent supplies of facemasks and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The French Ministry of Solidarity and Health contracted the forwarder to perform the deliveries as part of the government’s “Pont Aerien Francais”.

The flights linked Shenzhen and Paris-Vatry airport, with the first An-124 landing in France on March 30 and the last flight touching down three months and 3,000 tons later.

Volga-Dnepr said it faced a number of challenges during the operation, including crew quarantine restrictions, severe congestion at Chinese airport terminals, and immense pressure on Chinese export traffic.

“The teamwork between Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Geodis ensured that all challenges were overcome and cargo was delivered exactly on time every time,” the airline said.

With a flight landing every 48 hours in Vatry, nearly 400m face masks were delivered along with surgical gowns and other medical equipment.

“By the end of the programme, the giant airlift capabilities of Volga-Dnepr’s An-124 fleet had transported nearly 30,000 cubic metres of protective medical equipment from Southern China,” the airline said.

Upon arrival to Vatry airport, the vital medical supplies were transported under police escort and supervision to six forward warehouses around France, for onward distribution to medical practitioners and medical facilities.

“We are delighted to be working with a reliable and professional partner such as Volga-Dnepr Group who, not only offers a large fleet of aircraft but also understands the complexity and criticality of the market situation and has proven its ability to permanently adapt and adjust to the challenges.

“Geodis has been working with the Volga-Dnepr group for many projects in the past and the airline is now one of Geodis’ air direct main partners,” said Stanislas Brun, Geodis’ senior vice president global airfreight.

Stuart Smith, global director humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr, who oversaw the programme, added: “This was a unique airlift challenge, given its size, frequency and the epidemiological factors that our operating crews and all stakeholders have faced. The fact that we were able to deliver all 48 x flights exactly on schedule is testament to the hard-work and huge intra-team co-operation between Geodis, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, Vatry airport and Shenzhen airport. Everyone was truly united in this project.”

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