Thursday, May 14, 2015

Freight and Logistics Groups Man Up to Aid Stricken Nepal After Two Earthquakes

Outpouring of Sympathy - and Practical Assistance
Shipping News Feature

NEPAL – Once again, in the face of horrendous natural disaster, many in the freight and logistics community have been quick to stand up and be counted when the question of sending aid to a stricken region arose. This time it is the two severe earthquakes in Nepal which have left thousands dead and many millions homeless, often in remote mountain communities effectively now cut off from civilisation and possible help. Whilst confusion has often reigned as reports of customs problems, and a ban on RAF Chinooks after at least one roof was blown off by a US helicopter, filter back, there has been a steady stream of assistance from many in the transport industry, rarely covered in the mainstream media.

Regular readers will know that we have often carried items critical of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, however there is no question that when a situation arises where fast responding assistance is required the company’s Disaster Response Teams (DRTs) and its ‘Get Airports Ready for Disaster’ (GARD) programme are usually instantly made available or already in place. This has been the case in Nepal with DRT logistics support rapidly deployed to help manage the incoming international aid and handle the goods at Tribhuvan Kathmandu International Airport for further distribution by local and international organisations.

In 2010 the GARD programme was conducted at five regional airports, TIA (Kathmandu), Nepalganj, Biratnagar, Simara and Pokhara in conjunction with local Nepalese authorities and the United Nations Development Programme to ready the facilities in each location in case of such a disaster as this. The DRT responded within 48 hours of the initial earthquake on April 25 and at that time Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said:

“The international aid community is now gearing up to fly in urgently needed goods like technical equipment, water and food. DP DHL Group’s DRT will provide logistics support to help manage the incoming international aid and handle the goods at Tribhuvan Kathmandu International Airport for further distribution by local and international organizations to those in need.”

Another regular on the ‘rescue circuit’ is Russian airline Volga-Dnepr which has delivered 45 tons of humanitarian cargo on behalf of the Norwegian Red Cross to help the earthquake victims. The giant freighters which the company employs are ideal for carrying the huge payloads required in these situations to provide effect levels of aid. A Rapid Deployment Emergency Hospital with surgical capacity and 60 beds was transported from Oslo, Norway, to Kathmandu over two flights in the first week of May using Volga-Dnepr’s IL-76TD-90VD freighter aircraft.

With the coming of a second ‘quake on May 12 Volga-Dnepr points out that adjoining countries Bangladesh, China and India have also been impacted by the disaster and it expects to operate further relief flights to Nepal as the situation develops. This latest tragedy means the company has undertaken more than 1,000 humanitarian flights on board its AN-124-100 and IL-76TD-90VD fleet covering major disasters across the USA, Chile, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines and West Africa.

Japanese ocean carrier K Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ) has made a donation of 2 million yen through the Japanese Red Cross Society in consideration of damages caused by the first earthquake and all the company’s staff have expressed their most sincere sympathy to all those affected.

US headquartered Air Partner, which provides air charter services to governments, corporates and high net worth individuals, is working with various NGOs and aid agencies to assist, with Richard Smith, Director of Freight commenting:

“Since the earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, our Freight, Commercial Jets and Emergency Planning teams have been working around the clock to provide charter solutions to move search and rescue teams, shelter and medicines to Kathmandu and the surrounding areas. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those who did not survive the disaster.”

Whilst the logistics groups try to make headway in a situation which requires the utmost in skill and determination from those required to somehow arrange transport to some of the most disparate and difficult to reach places, Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO observed:

"The devastating earthquakes in Nepal have gripped the world’s attention. It also has highlighted aviation’s vital role. Airlines help transport the responders who perform their heroic efforts in bringing food, medical supplies and equipment to those in need. All our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this disaster and to those who are working around the clock to deliver hope and aid.”

Photo: Norwegian supplies alongside the giant Volga-Dnepr aircraft.