Volga-Dnepr Group assisted in the Mérieux Foundation’s efforts to control the Ebola virus disease epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by undertaking a special cargo flight last week carrying mobile bio-medical laboratories. One of their fleet of twelve AN124-100 aircraft was especially positioned in Lyon-Saint Exupery airport (France) on Tuesday 08 October for the urgent needs of the Merieux Foundation and its logistics partner Bioport Logistique, France.
The emergency cargo flight carried three 40ft “plug and play” mobile container laboratories built in the Rhone-Alpes region of France belonging to the Merieux Foundation as well as a mobile laboratory truck belonging to the Praesens Foundation of Belgium.
The cargo was transported to Kigali, Rwanda by the unique capabilities of Volga-Dnepr’s AN124 before being transferred overland to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo where the government National Institute for Biomedical research will operate the life-saving laboratories.
The DRC has been struggling to contain the spread of the Ebola epidemic in recent times and the charter flight was a race against the clock to be able to improve the Ebola diagnostic capacities in the city of Goma.
The Merieux Foundation had first received the call to respond to this national emergency back in July and within 2 months, the special biosafety level 2 and level 3 containers were ready to be shipped by Volga-Dnepr. These laboratories are essential to perform reliable and rapid diagnostic tests and to ensure biological monitoring of patients. The containers were joined on the giant AN124 by the truck-based mobile laboratory from Praesens, working in conjunction with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and prevention.
Volga-Dnepr Group was chosen for this operation because of its efforts in supporting the emergency needs of the Humanitarian sector and due to its long history in providing airlifts of mobile hospitals and equipment. Volga-Dnepr staff from its commercial HQ in London, UK attended the loading in Lyon airport and were able to offer aircraft tours to the assembled French press agencies as well as to senior figures from the Merieux Foundation, Bioport Logistique and the Praesens Foundation.
Stuart Smith, Global Director Humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr Group:
“We take great pride in being able to assist with such critical humanitarian air cargo deliveries. We have worked very closely with our colleagues at Bioport Logistique over the last month to ensure that this urgent and life-saving delivery could take place. The laboratories need to be treated with special care throughout the loading/unloading and delivery process. Our technical teams were able to perform a site visit to ensure that the laboratories were prepared for air transport. Volga-Dnepr Group operates probably the world’s most unique fleet of cargo aircraft and is well placed to meet the global needs of government, NGOs and foundations in the response to natural disasters & health crises”
Volga-Dnepr Group and partner airlines operate a combined fleet of nearly 50 all-cargo aircraft including the world’s largest commercial fleet of ramp-loading Antonov124 and Ilyushin76-TD-90VD aircrafts. The Group has responded to many of the world’s recent natural disasters and crises including recent air cargo assistance in Mozambique, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Guam.