Rickenbacker, logistics community respond to pandemic needs

Rickenbacker air cargo PPE
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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps the nation, Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) and the local logistics community are connecting the healthcare industry with critically needed medical supplies.

Rickenbacker and its partners in the logistics industry are playing a key role in responding to demands for personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, gowns, goggles, masks, hand sanitiser, ventilators and other desperately needed items in the fight against the disease.

“The logistics industry as a whole is robust and innovative, built to rise to these challenging times,” says Joe Nardone, president & CEO of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. “Particularly here in the Columbus Region, we are collaborative with a can-do spirit that keeps goods moving.”

The airport authority says airfreight forwarding companies are rallying to the cause by utilising their connections to bring PPE into the US. RCS Logistics, which normally ships fashion products, is now receiving three weekly flights of medical supplies out of Shanghai. Wen-Parker Logistics is coordinating additional weekly flights of PPE from Vietnam and Thailand.

“Getting much needed supplies to those on the front line, who are fighting this pandemic, is critical and we are honoured to play a part in this important mission,” says Karla Hatley, president, North America for Wen-Parker Logistics.

As one of the few cargo-dedicated airports in the world, Rickenbacker supports the world’s largest aircraft, connecting importers and exporters to an extensive global network. Strategically located within a 10-hour drive of 47 per cent of the US and one-third of Canadian populations, Rickenbacker offers a geographic advantage for shippers and distributors.

The airport notes it is part of a robust logistics ecosystem bringing air, ocean, and overland capabilities all into one geographically advantageous area serving the eastern half of the US.

“Rickenbacker Airport is an important national asset,” says Kenny McDonald, president and chief economic officer of One Columbus. “It’s being put to good use to import critical supplies from around the world, to keep businesses and our communities running.”

As the outbreak spread across the world, relief supplies have been flowing both ways. Initially supplies were sent to Asia. Now that parts of Asia are recovering, relief supplies are coming from Asia into the US. Examples of relief shipments facilitated by Rickenbacker include:

  • 83 tonnes of PPE shipped by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from Shanghai to Rickenbacker arrived 2 April 2;
  • A second FEMA flight carrying 88 tonnes of PPE arrived 5 April;
  • Ventilator equipment delivered to Rickenbacker aboard a Kalitta Airlines freighter 6 April, then flown out via helicopter to a Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Michigan;
  • 26 new flights out of Shanghai carrying 2,540 tonnes of freight since 1 March, including medical supplies and much needed relief to supply chain disruptions in the global transportation marketplace;
  • Hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies shipped from Shanghai aboard three weekly flights by Rickenbacker tenant RCS Logistics, a company that normally ships retail products;
  • PPE shipped by Wen-Parker Logistics from Vietnam and Thailand to Rickenbacker will commence in the coming weeks;
  • Midwest USA Chinese Chamber of Commerce leading nonprofit efforts to ship respirators, surgical masks, isolation gowns, gloves, goggles, ventilators and other supplies from Shanghai to Rickenbacker;
  • 187 double-stacked pallets of outgoing medical supplies shipped from Rickenbacker to US Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan via Volga-Dnepr Group charter in late March.

Within a few short hours after arriving at Rickenbacker, cargo is unloaded, broken down, staged, and reloaded onto trucks, or in some cases helicopters, before arriving at its final destination.

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