Dube Cargo Terminal processed a 100-tonne capacity freighter that airlifted facemasks and other protective gear, as well as medical equipment to China, as part of government's efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Over 2.8 million facemasks, from local KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng suppliers, bought by the Chinese government from local suppliers were consolidated and processed through the Dube Cargo Terminal at Durban's King Shaka International Airport and loaded on specially chartered freighters destined for Guangzhou, China.
"The freighter will airlift up to 50 tonnes of medical facemasks to China. The Dube Cargo Terminal and ACSA have worked with local freight forwarders and Air China to ensure that we are able to land and process this aircraft timeously.
'We have established ourselves as a reliable partner within the aviation industry, so when time-sensitive air cargo needs to be moved via South Africa, we get the call from the shippers, freight forwarders and aircraft operators.
"One of the biggest challenges for operations like these is being able to respond to very short turnaround times, while still servicing scheduled aircraft," said Mr Hamish Erskine, CEO of Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone.
"The key to Dube Cargo Terminal achieving quick turnaround times has been automation and staff training," says Mr Mlibo Bantwini, Executive of Dube Cargo Terminal. "The equipment we have in place allows us to work seamlessly from loading, processing and scanning of all cargo, allowing us to find efficiencies to handle additional aircraft with the same team and still achieve the same excellent service.
"Through the implementation of these measures, we have also been able to achieve zero losses or pilferage since we began operations in 2010 while maintaining fees that provide value for money for our users."
Terence Delomoney, General Manager of the airport said, "We understood the situation immediately and together with the relevant airport stakeholders, a plan was implemented. The priority was to ensure the safety of the staff facilitating the aircraft. As the aircraft landed empty, only to pick up cargo, all teams were fully trained, briefed and equipped with the necessary PPE, and the Department of Health took lead to ensure that the aircraft and crew were properly screened. As the airport, we are very pleased to be part of this operation and to positively contribute towards helping to curb the spread of this virus."
Dube Cargo Terminal is geared to service another freighter later in the week, as part of the same shipment of medical equipment and facemasks headed to China.