Cargo-only traffic through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) increased by 3.5 fold from 1 May to 18 May compared to the same period in April, on the back of urgent Covid-related medical shipments.
In all, Moscow Cargo – Sheremetyevo’s dominant cargo handler – handled more than 4,000 tonnes of medical cargo from international airlines.
Air transport has played a critical role in the delivery of medical supplies during the pandemic, and medical supplies have been a significant portion of imports handled at Sheremetyevo International Airport during April and May. The medical supplies consisted of masks, ventilators, medical equipment and medications.
Medical cargo is transported both on cargo aircraft and increasingly on cargo-only charter flights operated by passenger aircraft. About 35 per cent of medical supplies handled at the Moscow Cargo terminal in April were delivered by cargo-only flights, the airport notes.
Cargo-only flight service requires a number of additional handling operations. Depending on the instructions of the air carrier, cargo can be placed not only in the luggage compartment, but also in the cabin, which requires special preparation. All surfaces of the aircraft cabin must be carefully covered with a protective film, and the cargo must be fastened securely.
Loading and unloading of the passenger cabin is done only manually, the airport adds. In addition, the servicing of each flight is carried out according to individual algorithms, which depend on the nature, quantity and dimensions of the cargo, the placement of the cargo in the cabin, and the type of aircraft and the pattern of loading and unloading of the cabin approved by the carrier.
The need for prompt delivery of medical supplies also contributes to an increase in transit traffic. Currently, the demand for air shipments from China to Europe is at the same level as before the pandemic, SVO says. The transit cargo is transported primarily by cargo airlines, but the number of cargo-only flights has increased significantly.
“This kind of cooperation with air carriers has been possible due to the modern infrastructure and tariff policy at Sheremetyevo Airport,” it says. Today, Moscow Cargo regularly serves cargo-only flights of Aeroflot, Russia, iFly, Royal Flight, Air Astana, China Eastern, Nordwind Airlines, Pegas Fly, Mahan Air, Uzbekistan Airways, Air Algerie and others. Some of these flights transit Sheremetyevo for a refueling stop only.
Moscow Cargo is a modern, high-tech cargo terminal and a primary handling operator of Sheremetyevo International Airport serving 72.5 per cent of the airport’s cargo and mail volume.
In 2019, the Moscow Cargo terminal handled more than 275,000 tonnes of cargo and mail, reflecting a growth of 12 per cent year-on-year, which is significantly higher than the all-Russian indicators and the average indicators of the global air-cargo market, it says.
The Moscow Cargo terminal offers service for any category of cargo, including temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products (TTSP – Time & Temperature Sensitive Products), which require very short processing times in order to control temperature at all stages.
Maintenance of the cold chain is ensured by the rapid unloading of the TTSP from the aircraft, the expeditious transportation of the special cargo to the terminal using special apron equipment, and automated processes for placement and storage.
Shippers’ services include 26 independent TTSP storage areas with individually adjustable temperature between -20 and + 25˚С, refrigerators with a storage space of 3,845 mі, and 60 thermal cells for air containers and air pallets (ULD). In the TTSP storage areas, there is a single, round-the-clock temperature monitoring system with the option to track it online on the Moscow Cargo website.