Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Air Freight Carrier Deploys Giant Aircraft on Latest Humanitarian Aid Mission

Partners Link Up to Bring Succour to Super Typhoon Victims
Shipping News Feature
SAIPAN – Once again two names which have figured previously when disaster has struck are seen again recently as Ukraine-based air freight carrier Antonov Airlines worked with Air Partner Plc, to transport relief goods and humanitarian aid in aid to the reconstruction of the largest in the Northern Mariana Islands, which was left devastated after it was hit by Super Typhoon Yutu.

Using the air carrier’s AN-124-100 ‘Ruslan’ aircraft with up to 150 tonnes payload Antonov carried out 23 flights in under a month, following on from the transport of more equipment and supplies to Guam on an AN-225 ‘Mriya’ in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut only a month previously. That humanitarian operation was also undertaken in cooperation with Air Partner. The AN-225 is the largest aircraft in the world with a payload of 250 tonnes and was originally designed to carry the subsequently cancelled Russian space shuttle.

Both Antonov and Air Partner have featured prominently in similar missions before. In the latest project the first delivery of cargo reached Saipan the day after the typhoon hit, and established the Ukrainian carrier as one of the first commercial airlines to have transported relief supplies. Preparations began a day before the typhoon even reached the Northern Mariana Islands, with the cargo including ready-to-eat meals, water, tents, and other supplies.

In these circumstances the Open Skies Agreement between Ukraine and the US, which grants the airline a blanket exemption and gives unlimited flights to and from the US, enables Antonov Airlines to carry any type of cargo with only a few hours notice, and without the need for a US Department of Transport (DoT) statement of authorisation, which is crucial in time-critical emergency scenarios when deployment is needed within a very short timeframe. Antonov’s Commercial Department head, Ruslan Bykovets, commented:

“Both of these projects in the Western Pacific proved significantly challenging given the sheer volume of goods, totalling 1,500 tonnes, and very short timeframe in which to deliver, coupled with the fact that both destinations were in remote locations. We mobilised our AN-225 for the Guam operation and our AN-124-100 for the Saipan mission, working very closely with all parties involved to ensure that the cargo was delivered successfully and that the much-needed relief reached the affected populations.

”These two projects demonstrated the fast reactions and flexibility of the company and the reliability of our aircraft in emergency situations, to handle the speedy transport of large quantities of cargo to difficult-to-reach locations.”

Super Typhoon Yutu struck Saipan in mid-November with 180 miles per hour winds devastating properties on the island. The Northern Mariana Island group is home to tens of thousands of Americans and is a US Commonwealth Territory. Two people died, hundreds were injured and 3,000 properties destroyed when the storm hit.

Photo: One of Antonov’s giant AN-124-100 aircraft has a certain air of malevolence as it sits on the runway.