VIDEO: Emirates SkyCargo transports a priceless historical artefact

posted on 30th April 2019 by Justin Burns
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Between December 2018 and March 2019, visitors to the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, Switzerland, had the rare opportunity to come face to face with a colossal statue of Buddha more than 2,000 years old.

The statue from the Peshawar Museum in Pakistan was safely transported from its home to Zurich and back by Emirates SkyCargo. The ancient Gandhara Buddha statue was given on special loan by the Peshawar Museum to feature in the exhibition ‘Next Stop Nirvana- Approaches to Buddhism’ at the Museum Rietberg.

It was the first time that the statue had travelled outside of Pakistan. Special care had to be taken by the museums during the packing and installation process, as well as by Emirates SkyCargo during the transportation, to ensure that the monumental statue was not accidentally damaged.

Emirates SkyCargo said it pulled out all the stops to make sure that the statue weighing 1,700 kilograms, and reaching over two metres in height, was transported safely in the bellyhold of its widebody passenger aircraft through handling processes and security measures outlined under Emirates Valuable, its specialised product for transporting precious goods. However, the air cargo carrier also had to do some out of the box thinking.

“Our standard procedures mention that any precious cargo has to be transported in secure metal door containers. However, for a statue of this size, this was not really an option,” said Julius Mooney, commercial development manager – speciality products, Emirates SkyCargo.

“For us the priority was twofold, to ensure that the shipment was handled with utmost care to avoid any damage from impact and of course to ensure the security of the priceless statue. In the end we came up with the simple solution of affixing an Emirates tamper proof tape on the outer packaging of the wooden crate to make sure that we would not have any tampering of the shipment,” he added.

Emirates SkyCargo also worked with Emirates Group Security and Transguard to ensure seamless security screening, handling and clearance for the statue.

During its transit at Dubai International Airport, the statue was quickly transferred on the ramp to its connecting aircraft. With detailed planning and coordination with Emirates Network Control, Emirates SkyCargo ensured that the arriving and departing aircraft were parked in close proximity so as to avoid any long transit delays.

The shipment was also monitored continuously by Emirates SkyCargo’s 24/7 operational Cargo Operations Command Centre to pre-empt and avoid any potential obstacles during transportation.

Emirates SkyCargo executed the first leg of the movement from Peshawar to Zurich in December 2018 and completed the return leg from Zurich in early April 2019. 

Emirates SkyCargo transports a variety of precious and valuable items such as precious artwork, historical artefacts, high end consumer products such as luxury watches and jewellery on its fleet of over 270 aircraft across six continents.

In 2018/ 19, the air cargo carrier moved close to 2,500 tonnes of valuable products under Emirates Valuable. The air cargo carrier has transported artwork for museums in the UAE, Russia, UK, Australia and USA amongst other countries.