Air Charter Service (ACS) has arranged its first charter flights to Poland carrying relief cargo for refugees from the Ukraine crisis on behalf of its clients and has at least six more flights planned for various organisations.
The first flight, a B737 freighter, landed in Rzeszów early on March 1 from the UK. ACS cargo personnel will be shortly arriving in Poland, to coordinate future flights into Warsaw, Rzeszów and Chișinău on the ground and further flights are being planned into multiple countries bordering Ukraine.
During previous large scale humanitarian relief operations, a large amount of air cargo capacity has been provided by specialist operators of large freighters. However, the industry must now mobilise with a smaller pool of aircraft available than would normally be the case due to many of these specialist cargo airlines being either Russian, which will obviously not be used, or Ukrainian who in many cases have had their operations disrupted or aircraft damaged or destroyed, explained ACS.
The available capacity is further restricted by existing constraints due to the ongoing seafreight and wider supply chain congestion and belly capacity shortages.
ACS director for humanitarian services, Ben Dinsdale, said: “The cargo so far has been medicines and tents being sent from airports in the UK, Switzerland and the Middle East. It is an evolving situation but there is the potential for a significant number more flights if the number of potential refugees being reported is accurate.
“The cargo industry is going to have to move into yet another gear to help deal with increased demand and the smaller pool of aircraft now available.
“In a market already struggling for available aircraft due to the well-publicised supply chain issues gripping the world, we have mobilised our cargo team and emergency response procedures to ensure we can find solutions for all relief flights heading to the region.”
Group cargo director Dan Morgan-Evans added: “The fact that a number Ukrainian aircraft that would normally be used in such humanitarian operations have been destroyed during this invasion just compounds the challenge the industry now faces.”