Oct 16, 2019: Last week Volga-Dnepr Group operated an emergency cargo flight to assist the Merieux Foundation in its efforts to control the Ebola virus disease epidemic in the African city, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Russian carrier’s AN124-100 aircraft was especially positioned in Lyon-Saint Exupery airport (France) on October 8 for the urgent needs of the Merieux Foundation and its logistics partner Bioport Logistique, France.
The flight carried three 40 feet “plug and play” mobile container laboratories built in the Rhone-Alpes region of France belonging to the Merieux Foundation as well as a mobile laboratory truck belonging to the Praesens Foundation of Belgium.
The cargo was transported to Kigali, Rwanda before being transferred overland to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo where the government National Institute for Biomedical research will operate the life-saving laboratories.
The DRC has been struggling to contain the spread of the Ebola epidemic in recent times and the charter flight was a race against the clock to be able to improve the Ebola diagnostic capacities in the city of Goma.
The Merieux Foundation had first received the call to respond to this national emergency back in July and within 2 months, the special biosafety level 2 and level 3 containers were ready to be shipped by Volga-Dnepr. These laboratories are essential to perform reliable and rapid diagnostic tests and to ensure biological monitoring of patients. The containers were joined on the giant AN124 by the truck-based mobile laboratory from Praesens, working in conjunction with the Africa Centres for Disease control and prevention.
Volga-Dnepr staff from its commercial HQ in London, UK attended the loading in Lyon airport and were able to offer aircraft tours to the assembled French press agencies as well as to senior figures from the Merieux Foundation, Bioport Logistique and the Praesens Foundation.
An Antonov specially chartered by the Mérieux Foundation took off today @BIOPORT_LOG humanitarian logistics platform, @lyonaeroports @vinciairport. On board: 3 #IMeBIO container laboratories and a mobile lab from #Praesens Foundation, adapted to complex situations in the field pic.twitter.com/kKkzIEsx7b— Fondation Mérieux (@MerieuxFdn) October 9, 2019
Stuart Smith, Global director Humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr Group said: “The laboratories need to be treated with special care throughout the loading/unloading and delivery process. Our technical teams were able to perform a site visit to ensure that the laboratories were prepared for air transport.”
The Group has responded to many of the world’s recent natural disasters and crises including recent air cargo assistance in Mozambique, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Guam.