Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) has managed to keep its humanitarian air corridors open, helping with humanitarian missions and deliver assistance to vulnerable people as two further relief planes took off from the airport, destined for Windhoek, Namibia last week.
In July, the world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya operated by Antonov Airlines also flew from Leipzig, Germany on a flight to Windhoek, Namibia carrying tons of medical supplies from Germany.
Namibia continues to reel from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the German government enabling the supply of more than 600 pallets of relief cargo, flown to Namibia by Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
An Antonov 124 was loaded by PortGround, a subsidiary of Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG specialising in cargo and ramp handling and the operation commissioned by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
On board the aircraft were much needed medical supplies, including face masks and ventilators, for the Southern Africa.
Earlier in the year Volga-Dnepr Group and Leipzig/Halle Airport inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the aim to strengthen Humanitarian Hub at LEJ.
“Not only do these flights demonstrate our commitment toward Humanitarian sector but also come as a logical step for further development of long-lasting strategic cooperation between LEJ and Volga-Dnepr Group” noted Yulia Celetaria, the Global Healthcare Director for the Volga-Dnepr Group.
“Our recent flights to Namibia, organized in cooperation with our customer Maersk, is one of the roadmap’s steps. Our flights to Namibia come the same week as we transport firefighting equipment to Greece and vaccine production machinery to India, which shows our readiness to support aid and relief sector.”
The Airport is Europe’s fourth largest air cargo hub, which sustains important logistics and supply chains serving both industrial enterprises and the population. Altogether, some 60 cargo airlines fly in to the airport, operating a route network with more than 200 destinations around the world. In the first half of 2021, some 70 cargo charter flights were handled, carrying millions of Covid-19 tests and PPE.
Keeping Humanitarian Missions Flying
Since its inception in May 2020, the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge programme – set up to deliver medical supplies needed for vulnerable countries’ coronavirus response – delivered more than 1,500 tonnes of equipment, as well as 1,700 medical and humanitarian staff across 65 flights.
The humanitarian mission was delivered in coordination with the World Food Programme (WFP), to countries such as Iran, Sudan and Venezuela.
The EU is not the only international organisation to run humanitarian air corridors during the pandemic. In April, the first UN solidarity flight departed from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, transporting medical cargo to all countries in Africa, to help the rest of the continent contain the pandemic.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo