GROUND handler Worldwide Flight Services’ (WFS) team at Milan’s Malpensa, northern Italy’s largest international airport, has been expediting the processing of 20 tonnes of urgent medical equipment and supplies flown in from Shanghai on special China Eastern Airlines charter flights.
To help tackle the nation’s Coronavirus crisis, a team of doctors was also on board the flight, which was organised by the Chinese government, along with time-sensitive materials destined for hospitals in Milan, Venice, Padoa and Siena, writes Thelma Etim.
The China Eastern charters then repatriated 187 Chinese citizens from Italy to Wenzhu in southern Zhejiang Province, says a company statement.
Italy has had 63,927 confirmed cases of the virus and 6,078 people have died from it, according to BBC News.
Lombardy, the worst-affected region, with 3,095 deaths, has been under a lockdown since 8 March 2020, the public broadcaster reveals.
On that same date, Italian flag carrier Alitalia announced it was suspending all national and international flights to and from Milan Malpensa until 3 April following an edict from the government.
Lombardy’s president Attilio Fontana is now imposing stricter measures to curtail the spread of the virus.
Massimiliano Introini, managing director of WFS in Italy, observes: “Cargo handling specialists at airports around the world are playing a vital role in helping governments and the healthcare sector deal with the urgent medical response to the outbreak of Covid-19.
“In Milan, we were able to ensure that, by 20.00hrs on the day the medical supplies arrived, that they were delivered to Protezione Civile, Italy’s emergency agency, to be distributed to various hospitals. We are ready to support more such flights to ensure life-saving equipment reaches patients as quickly as possible.
“This is one of the ultimate examples of the important role the airline and cargo handling industries can play at times of national and international crisis. We must ensure these vital supply lines remain open.”
WFS says it expects to handle more charters into Italy in the coming days and weeks as it continues to give its full support to the relief effort taking place across the country.
Introini continues: “I also want to acknowledge the commitment of our team for ensuring this particular project was completed so efficiently and for all their hard work and support during such a difficult time for the Italian population.
“The health and well-being of our staff, alongside the safety and security of our operations, remains our highest priority and we will continue to take the necessary measures to protect all the people involved in this essential work,” he adds.
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