Airports detail solutions to Covid

World Cargo Summit sees airports in Dubai, Belgium and South Africa discuss future strategy


Solutions to, and opportunities arising from, the problems caused by the Covid pandemic were detailed during a special airports session of the World Cargo Summit on January 27.

Whilst there was general support for a more collaborative approach and more digitization, each airport tailors their response to the pandemic.

“We need to work together to save time, money and effort,” said Youssef Beydoun, Head of Cargo Business Relationships at Dubai Airports, before pointing out one of the more eye-catching measures the industry has come up with contend with Covid.

Photo Pixabay

Working with GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited & GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GMR-HYD), Dubai Airports will build an exclusive Vaccine Air Freight Corridor Product called 'HYDXB-VAXCOR' ('Hyderabad to Dubai global Vaccine Corridor).

Under an end of year MoU, GMR-HYD and Dubai Airports will be according priority to the temperature sensitive vaccine shipments moving between GMR Hyderabad and Dubai Airports for further connections part of the "HYDXB-VAXCOR" and build this service, the  website said.

Delhi and Hyderabad Airports, in association with clearing agencies, have also put in place processes for express movement of vaccines to and from the airport and 24x7 operations of cargo terminals, it added. There are separate dedicated gates for fast movement of vaccine-carrying vehicles as well as  a Truck Slot Management System for pre-booking at the terminals.

Underscoring this, but slightly differently, is Liege airport, which continues to evolve (and fast) from a cargo airport to logistics hub. “We need to integrate,” said Steven Verhasselt, its Vice President for Commercial & Strategy.  “We are working in the cargo community approach.”

Verhasselt’s argument is that with vaccine rollout looming, the risks are great because of the number of handovers there are in the chain. Working together as a community reduces the chances of temperature outages.

On the physical side Liege plans to turns its passenger terminal into a cargo community centre, although it will also double up as a vaccination’s hub. The airport also plans to use land near but not next to the runway to boost its facilities and connectivity to other modes of transport.

The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is looking to consolidate its position both in Africa and its home base, with a strategy defined by Nina Englebrecht-Malherbe, its Senior Specialist, Cargo as “very much regroup and sustain global connections.”

This will especially be done by bolstering seasonal routes from Cape Town and Durban and expanding the role of O.R. Tambo International Airport, with both global and local connections. “We need to strengthen and support the Africa market,” said Englebrecht-Malherbe.

One “big focus” of this would be support for the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), the African Union’s bid to create a single market for aviation services across the continent. This, they believe, will trigger growth.

ACSA has also pushed collaboration at home as part of its new approach.

The Covid pandemic has seen it work with everybody up and down the supply chain, including governments, manufacturers, the private sector and consumers, to ensure when vaccine roll out gets going there are as few gaps as possible, said Englebrecht-Malherbe, who described it as “multi-sector and multi-level.”

Other collaborative uses of technology were provided by Elena Konkina, Deputy General Director – Commercial Director, Sheremetyevo Moscow Cargo.

In order to cut personal contact’s the Moscow airport gave its customers “full access to our systems” such as CCTV, which meant they had no reason to visit the facilities. It also moved more transactions online. “Digitisation is the only way to survive,” said Ms Konkina.