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In late 2021, New Silk Road Network’s member Spedman Global Logistics’ Denmark office was assigned a contract to handle the delivery of 35 million Covid test kits for a governmental client. As the optimum means of transport to deliver the cargo on time was air freight, the entire load was split into 19 full charter flights of different airplanes. The shipments went onboard an Antonov An-124, a Boeing 747-400F and the world’s largest airplane, the Antonov An-225 Mrija.

(AN-225 Mrija, Pic Credit: Spedman Global Logistics)

To handle the operations in Denmark, the Spedman team had to find an airport that was conveniently located, had the cargo facilities that enabled efficient unloading of each shipment, and most importantly, could handle the An-225. In the end, they chose Billund Airport, whose catchment area includes Denmark, Northern Germany and Southern Sweden. The cargo terminals of Cargo Center Billund had the advantage of being directly situated adjoining the airside tarmac, with abundant cargo aircraft parking stands within immediate reach. In addition, having worked with the airport before, the Spedman team knew that they would get all the necessary support and high-quality, efficient service.

(AN- 124, Pic Credit: Spedman Global Logistics)

Each shipment delivered onboard the An-124 consisted of over 6600 cartons, and each Boeing 747-400F carried just over 3000 cartons. The planes required different unloading operations. While the 747-400F was handled manually with individual cartons moved onto conveyors and then loaded onto pallets on the tarmac, the An-124 carried its loads directly on pallets, which were then unloaded using forklifts. The airline chartering the plane confirmed that one of the unloading operations on the An-124 was completed in record-breaking time. It took the Cargo Center Billund team just 105 minutes to unload over 71t of cargo. This proved to be a good test before the arrival of the Mrija.

(AN-225 Mrija, Pic Credit: Spedman Global Logistics)

After receiving all the necessary clearings from the Danish Civil Aviation and Railway Authority, the An-225 was free to land in Billund. It arrived on February 4th at 23:30. The unloading, according to the protocol, began at 8:45 the next morning and was completed by 11:45. The 85,8t of cargo onboard was stacked onto 518 pallets. Then 9 forklifts operated in sync to bring them all to the storage area, from where they were loaded onto trucks and delivered to the customer’s warehouse. All cargo was inspected and cleared without issues.

(AN-225 Mrija, Pic Credit: Spedman Global Logistics)

When looking back at this project, the Spedman team states that flexibility was key. Individual flight itineraries changed even at the last minute due to various external circumstances, such as Covid-19 restrictions. In such situations, timely, accurate and clear communication between all stakeholders was necessary. Thanks to thorough preparation for different scenarios, the Spedman team were able to adapt and adjust on the spot. On top of that, trust and loyalty amongst all parties involved led to the successful and on schedule delivery of these much needed Covid test kits.

(AN-225 Mrija, Pic Credit: Spedman Global Logistics)

We would like to extend a warm round of applause to the Spedman Denmark team, who worked their magic on not just 1 but 19 charter flights with various aircrafts, amongst which included the one and only Antonov An-225 Mrija. As we go full stride into 2022, we wish them many more successful projects to come.

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