Gefco loads up B787 for Covid-19 charter flight

By Damian Brett

Freight forwarder Gefco has transported a shipment of medical supplies on special charter flights from Shanghai to Bratislava to help tackle Covid-19 outbreak in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The flights – on behalf of healthcare investment firm Penta – took place from March 31-April 1 using two Boeing 787 aircraft that were temporarily converted to carry cargo. 

The aircraft were loaded with more than 64 tons of medical supplies, including 6m face masks, 20,000 respirators and 8,000 non-contact thermometers, as well as 60 pallets of vitamins and food supplements.

On arrival, the shipments were unloaded, sorted and palletized by the forwarder at Bratislava Airport for overland distribution to Penta’s network of pharmacies and hospitals in the two countries.

Slovakia and the neighbouring Czech Republic are the first two countries in Europe to impose mandatory mask-wearing and have over 3,000 cases of the virus to date.

GEFCO air and sea country manager Ladislav Balogh said: “I’m very proud of my team, who consolidated the cargo from seven different suppliers in China, organised all the export documents and coordinated the dispatch by two charter flights to Bratislava, all in record time. Their safety is of course paramount and we’re doing everything we can to maintain this.

“Earlier this year, after watching a TV report on the spread of COVID-19 in China and the shortage of protective face masks, I wrote to my Chinese colleagues to ask whether they needed help in procuring them.

“Our local Air & Sea teams ordered protective masks and arranged their transport to Hong Kong. We had no idea that six weeks later we would handle the consignment of medical supplies in the opposite direction and in much larger volumes.”

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