A total 69 cargo flights have left the Quito International Airport between the 18th and 29th of March, transporting 2,500 metric tons of export cargo to the world. Restrictions imposed on air transport do not affect international cargo flights, however, due to the global health emergency caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, international markets have decreased their demand. Similarly, cargo imports continue to develop to supply the country with the products and supplies necessary for various activities.
“Keeping the cargo operations open allows the country's producing sector active, specifically the one related to flower production. The airport is the main point of entry and exit of goods for Quito and its area of influence, therefore, it is essential to continue with the cargo operation, fulfilling the commitment made to the Mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda, to continue supporting the productive activities of the city,” says Andrew O'Brian, President and CEO of Corporación Quiport.
The entire air cargo logistics chain is still operational, starting in Tabacarcen, a logistics center that houses 70% of the air cargo consolidation, as well as the four palletizers that work in the export cargo terminal: Novacargo, Pertrally, Aerosan and Servipalet . Cargo airlines continue to arrive at the airport, although some flights were suspended due to lower demand.
All the actors in the logistics chain have taken all the necessary protection measures to prevent infection among their collaborators, equipping them with the necessary personal protection equipment, and at the same time continuing with their daily operations.
Santiago Gómez de la Torre, General Manager of Tabacarcen, explains that air transport fulfills a role that in many cases can be vital. "International cargo flights mainly transport medicines and medical supplies, protective equipment, industrial products, as well as household items," he reports.
Regarding the consolidation of export cargo, many flower orders have been canceled, which directly affects the consolidators, but even so trucks continue to deliver flowers at the international cargo terminal for export, although not in a reduced quantity. This causes the facilities to be working at a third of their capacity.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Emanuele, General Manager of Pertrally, one of the four palletizers that operate in the cargo terminal of the Quito airport, considers that "all of us actors are making great coordinated efforts to maintain the export activity."
“With Quiport's leadership, we have all pitched in, although the impact is serious. We estimate a reduction of 35% of what we normally transport. Around these dates we'd normally be bustling with activity as part of the high season for Mother's Day, which, under present circumstances, will not occur this year as it has in previous years," said Eduardo Emanuele, who calls for continued efforts to achieve the success of the export operation that is an essential part of the country's economy.
Elizabeth Suárez, General Manager of PrimeAir, a representative of two cargo airlines operating in Quito, explains that, despite the drop in demand - mainly due to the fall in the European market - Middle Eastern, Asian, Australian and Russian markets mantain a semblance of normalcy. Meanwhile, in the United States, the drop in demand has began to be felt during the past week.
“The importance of keeping air cargo operations active is fundamental since we are not only involved with the movement of flowers and fruit, which by the way is an industry that has been hit hard by this crisis and must be fully supported, but also in the transport medicines and medical supplies that can help us be best prepared for this situation. Furthermore, it allows us to maintain important connectivity between Ecuador and the world,” remarked Elizabeth Suárez.
“It is a difficult time for everyone, however, we have a great responsibility to the country. All of us involved in the activity of air cargo transportation are very well aware of this fact. We are very grateful for the commitment, will and effort of the companies involved and their work teams, who are allowing us not to stop," concludes Andrew O'Brian.