ACS volunteers helped keep Covid test kit supplies flowing earlier this month. Two flights arriving at Birmingham Airport in England with more than two million kits on board were unable to be offloaded by the local handling agent alone so the charter broker sent a team of ten people from its Surbiton headquarters to help unload every box by hand.
Group cargo director Dan Morgan-Evans, explained: “With the lack of freighters in the marketplace at the moment, ACS has been using ‘preighters’ (passenger aircraft loaded with cargo) as the solution for many of our clients’ shipments.
“The downside of these aircraft is the additional manpower required for loading and unloading. Unlike a regular freighter where pallet-loads of cargo can be removed relatively quickly using a forklift or high-loader, this required taking off each box, one by one which requires a much larger number of staff to unload than a specialised freighter.”
He added that while ground staff at some airports have worked miracles, for two of the flights from Shenzhen to Birmingham it became clear that the ground handler simply couldn’t provide enough manpower to unload the A330 and B787 quickly enough to turn the aircraft around within the timeframe required.
He said: “I sent out a message to everyone in our headquarters, asking for a team of volunteers to head up to Birmingham and I was staggered with the response. We had volunteers from our marketing, accounts, legal, IT and HR teams, all willing to get up early and to travel to Birmingham to do their bit in keeping this essential cargo coming into the country.”
The first aircraft, the B787-9, arrived shortly before lunchtime and the team quickly got to work, in conjunction with the handling agent. The complete offload took just over an hour, allowing the aircraft to depart for its next flight.
There was much more cargo on the second, larger aircraft, which arrived mid-afternoon. Again the handling agent and ACS staff worked well together and the offload went very smoothly. The aircraft departed later that evening for its next operation.
Dan Morgan-Evans added: “I was so proud to see everyone pull together to get the job done. These are exceptional times and people recognised the significance of what we were doing and dropped their day job to get their hands dirty”.
Video: ACS Volunteers – 2.3 Million COVID-19 Rapid Tests – Birmingham Airport – YouTube