Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) launched a new ‘emergency response’ cargo handling operation in just 72 hours at Belgium’s Liège Airport following a request from the airport to help increase its capacity to accept more freighter flights carrying urgent medical equipment into Europe to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the continent.
Located within a brand new but previously unoccupied airside warehouse, the new cargo facility was made available to WFS by Liège Airport authority, following which the world’s largest air cargo handler promptly transferred highly-trained, experienced cargo handling staff from its operation in Brussels, ensuring full compliance with the company’s first priority of operational safety and security.
Essential equipment, including forklifts, slave masters, slave pallets and a truck dock, was also sourced from nearby WFS stations in both Belgium and the Netherlands.
“To open an entire cargo handling operation, capable of meeting the very highest safety and security standards, in the space of just three days would be remarkable at any time but, right now, our ability to respond so quickly has even greatest significance because it means Liège has the increased support and expertise it needs to meet demand for all-cargo flights,” CEO of WFS Craig Smyth said.
“Most importantly, having more freighter handling capability means medical equipment and supplies will be arriving in hospitals much faster to help both the medical teams and their patients,” Smyth expressed.
WFS expects to handle up to 14 freighter flights per week during this emergency response phase of operations, which is currently expected to continue until the end of May. WFS will also be providing handling services for outbound cargo shipments from Liège Airport.
As one of Europe’s premier freighter hubs, Liège is acting as a central hub in the region for medical equipment and supplies arriving from China and other parts of the world.
“Liège Airport has played a vital role in the provisioning of personal protection equipment (PPE) since the outbreak of covid-19 in Europe,” VP Commercial Cargo & Logistics at Liège Airport Bert Selis said.
“Additional aircraft movements and the huge growth in the volume of humanitarian goods led us to make this request to WFS for an immediate response to the market needs,” Selis added.
WFS’ speed of response to the airport’s request was helped by its existing preparations to commence a new cargo handling operation for AirBridgeCargo Airlines in Liege in the coming weeks.
“This could only be done with the kind cooperation of AirBridgeCargo that has allowed their facility to be temporarily used for this operation. We are grateful to WFS for accepting this challenge, which means we are now able to welcome cargo carried onboard ad-hoc charters and short term freighter operations in the temporary facility made available to them,” Selis said.