A plane loaded with 68 tonnes of disposable gloves, masks and visors has arrived at Heathrow and is already on its way to the front line.
The flight packed with personal protective equipment from China landed at West London Airport on Saturday afternoon.
It was chartered by global freight forwarders Far Logistics after orders were placed by several suppliers with manufacturers in Asia.
Felixstowe-based general manager Louis Phillips said the first discussion about the introduction of the cargo took place only a week ago, but that it would be the first flight for many.
He said, “There were tens of thousands of individual pieces on this one and there are tens of millions behind it. “
Many of these items will be imported by other companies like hers.
He added, “When you’re working on a project like this, it’s about contributing to the national frontline effort, which is currently struggling. “
From the airport, goods are headed to distribution centers and, on Sunday afternoon, Phillips expected certain items to have already arrived where they are most needed.
“The NHS is a major concern, but it will be treated in homes; it goes to general surgeons and the police force; anyone who needs PPE in the UK, “he said.
Pandemic imported goods more delicate than normal, eliminating the possibility of moving them in the holds of passenger planes.
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Vessels are also out of the question given the time required.
Phillips said, “Goods from Asia to the UK leave and arrive in one day by air. With sea freight, it takes a month to transit from port to port.
“Usually we would have a lot of options to board planes, but due to the lack of commercial airlines, there are fewer options. “
Import is also made complicated after being more tightly regulated due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the process, he said the company was in touch with government “on many levels.”
And Chinese authorities perform additional checks on each shipment, issuing product inspection certificates to ensure standards are met.
Phillips says more flights are scheduled at least once a week.
He added that his business had “knocked on doors looking for this business,” but that ultimately “it’s about being able to help.”