GEODIS and Volga-Dnepr Airlines recently completed a large charter to deliver urgent supplies of medical equipment, facemasks and PPE to France, operating a series of 48 x Antonov-124 flights within a 90-day period between April and June 2020.

The French Ministry of Solidarity and Health contracted GEODIS to develop an air bridge that would ensure that the French state received all necessary PPE supplies to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines was then chosen by GEODIS to support a reliable and efficient air-bridge linking Shenzhen, China and Paris-Vatry airport utilising a fleet of 12 x AN124 freighters. The first Antonov-124 flight landed in Vatry on the 30th March, with the last flight touching down 3 months and 3,000 tons later.

The air bridge encountered a number of obstacles, including crew quarantine restrictions, severe congestion at Chinese airport terminals, and immense pressure on Chinese export traffic.

With a flight landing every 48 hours in Vatry, nearly 400 million face masks were delivered along with surgical gowns and other medical equipment. By the end of the contract, Volga-Dnepr’s AN124 fleet had transported nearly 30,000 cubic metres of protective medical equipment from Southern China.

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 .” says Stanislas Brun, GEODIS’ SVP Global Air Freight.

Stuart Smith, Global Director Humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr, who oversaw the program concluded that “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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