Robert Fordree, executive vice president for cargo at Menzies Aviation, says it is encouraging how quickly teams and individuals adapt to situations and find ways to carry cargo across the world
The devastating impact of COVID-19 across the world and in aviation has been well publicised and documented, as has the uncertainty of future flight schedules – and when and what a ‘return to normality’ will look like.
Menzies Aviation has responded to this challenge in line with all companies, including working from home and the significant increase of words not often used in our vocabulary such as ‘lockdown’ and ‘furlough’. As of today, we have a significant proportion of our global workforce across all business streams operating from home or simply staying at home. The cargo business has not been as hard hit as ground handling across the globe as we have all seen an upturn in the operation of freighters and the use of passenger aircraft for both belly-hold and now cabin-loaded cargo. Where possible, trucking operations are still providing much needed cargo transport across borders where they can operate.
With the reduced cargo capacity across the world as a result of the grounding of so many passenger aircraft, the global realisation of the importance of air cargo is a positive, and our expectation is that cargo will become more of a focus for airlines in the future. There is now also a far better understanding of how labour intensive the loading or unloading of cargo from the passenger cabins can be and how challenging it is to maintain acceptable and safe social distancing for our teams during this time. What is always encouraging is how quickly teams and individuals adapt to the situations and find ways to carry cargo across the world; it seems that spirit will never die.
We have been maintaining communications more than ever with our global cargo customers, sharing the status of our operations across the world and advising any change in operating hours that may have been necessary as a result of a downturn in cargo volumes, or the necessity to furlough employees to protect the long-term interests of our business, as well as our customers and airports. We have also significantly increased communications to all our employees, particularly from our leadership team and with the implementation of a new employee intranet site.
Our immediate focus is always to provide safe and secure operations for our people and customers; we are then seeking every opportunity to keep all of our stations operating as normally as possible so that we play our part in maintaining global supply chains.