Aid flights to Japan continue
Charter broker Air Partner has flown 145 tonnes of humanitarian aid into Japan on the world’s only operational Antonov 225. The freighter carried water, masks, protective suits, blankets, food, respirators and anti-radiation medication from Châteauroux Airport near Paris to Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Also on board was specialized equipment for relief teams such as pumps, compressors, generators and radiation meters.
Richard Smith, Air Partner’s freight director, said: “The AN225 allowed us to move the entire payload in one airlift, which was commercially beneficial for the client. Following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, Air Partner flew one of the first relief and medical support teams into the region, as well as their equipment, and this latest flight is part of our ongoing operations on behalf of governments, corporate companies and international charities.”
Also, Lufthansa Cargo operated a relief flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo on behalf of the European Commission. An MD-11 freighter took in 70 tonnes of relief supplies donated by the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands and Lithuania, including blankets urgently required in the current freezing weather in Northern Japan.
Lufthansa Cargo re-routed its scheduled freighter services to Japan through Osaka for two weeks after the earthquake, owing to severe handling restrictions at Narita. Passenger services to Tokyo were also suspended, but cargo customers could still book shipments on passenger flights to and from Osaka and Nagoya.
As passenger flights to Tokyo were resuming, Lufthansa Cargo was still assessing whether forwarders would benefit from a return of freighter services there as Osaka was working well, CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt told a media briefing in Frankfurt.
Manufacturers in the areas of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami, including suppliers of automotive components, silicon wafers for microchips and crucial resins used in mobile phones, have seen production plants wiped out or are operating at reduced capacity.
Garnadt admitted the resulting loss of export cargo from Japan had forced the company to cancel “some single freighters." There would be no long-term impact as he expected an increase in traffic when the recovery process got underway.