Cargo charter moments of glory

Friday, March 15, 2019

Over the last decades our clients have tasked us to move cargo of various weight, size and shapes for any number of reasons to destinations around the world. No matter how extensive or demanding - we always go above and beyond to find the right cargo charter solution to meet our clients’ requirements - from moving gigantic constructs to the delivery of tons of aid to fight against epidemics.

Below we have compiled some of our most spectacular cargo charter moments that we want to share with you.

Transport of a gigantic mechanical Dragon horse 

Cargo type: Gigantic mechanical Horse Dragon 
Purpose: Chinese parade to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China 
Route: Nantes (France) – Beijing (China)
Aircraft: Antonov 124 

Air Partner teamed up with Ruslan International to fly a spectacular, gigantic mechanical Horse Dragon to Beijing. Long Ma Jing Shen or ‘The Spirit of the Horse Dragon’ was due to participate in a Chinese parade to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China. 

The unique 12 metre high, 46 tons mechanical model was built in France by La Machine.  Air Partner flew the giant dragon from Nantes in France to China to the celebration parade in Beijing on an Antonov 124.  

The model which required at least eight operators riding aboard to control the puppet’s movements, was made of a wooden chassis over a steel body.  The dragon had articulations that enable intricate movements including the ability to rear its hind legs, spew fire, snort jets of smoke and uncoil its tongue.  

Our freight team worked extremely hard making preparations for the flight and throughout the meticulous six hour loading process. Great care was taken to ensure that the giant model would arrive safely in China. The Antonov 124 was perfect for transporting Long Ma Shin as its doors open to 6.4m x 4.4m making it ideal for this enormous and unique animal.   

The history of the AN-124 is one of carrying exceptional loads; but this ranks among the most unusual and fascinating assignments the airline yet dealt.  

Relocating of the lion cub "King"

Cargo type: Lion cub “King” 
Purpose: Relocation to his new permanent home at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa 
Route: Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth 
Aircraft: Beech 1900 

Air Partner was called upon to assist in the successful relocation of a lion. The lion cub “King” was discovered in a Paris apartment in October last year, where he had been kept illegally as an exotic pet and neglected by his owner. Since then, he had been living temporarily at Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre in Belgium but was recently found a new permanent home at Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Air Partner was tasked with transporting the big cat from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth on a chartered aircraft, from where he made the hour-long journey to Shamwari. 

Our freight team was on hand at all times to assist with the complex custom clearing process in Johannesburg and ensure a smooth transition from King’s initial commercial flight on Kenya Airways to the chartered Beech 1900 for the next leg of his journey. The turboprop was chosen for its suitable cargo size, which allowed two vets to travel alongside the lion with access at all times. Ensuring the safe loading and unloading of King was paramount, as was his health and welfare. 

Since his relocation, King has settled into his new home at the Big Cat Rescue Centre at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, South Africa. He has been exploring his new surroundings and is intrigued by all the new sights and smells around him.

Relief goods to fight against Ebola

Cargo type: 3,400 tons of aid 
Purpose:  Delivery of relief goods to the crisis region in Africa 
Route: From Europe, the United States and Middle East to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Aircraft: Various types of cargo aircraft from AN12 to B747-400F 

Since the outbreak of Ebola in March 2014 until the end of the crisis in November 2015, numerous NGO’s, governments and aid agencies reached out to Air Partner to help provide the affected regions (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia) with relief goods via cargo charter. The highly contagious nature of Ebola made the provision of aid extremely difficult, particularly from a logistical perspective as parts of the airports had been closed and the ground crew were not allowed to enter the aircraft for loading. 

We worked closely with our clients to provide the affected regions with vital supplies. Due to the volume of cargo available to move at that time, various types of cargo aircraft from AN12 to B747-400F were used. The freight team operated a total of 128 flights between Europe, the United States and Middle East to Freetown, Sierra Leone and Monrovia, Liberia. At the peak of the crisis the group was operating flights every 48 hours carrying cargo of medical equipment and supplies, vehicles, construction materials and protective clothing. Our team were also responsible for transporting plasma using refrigerated temperature controlled envirotainers.  

In total we flew 3,400 tons of aid for our clients across 128 flights which included 150 ambulances, over 1400 beds, more than a million safety suits, a whole 92 bed medical treatment facility; including ambulances, tents, generators, air conditioning units and lighting sets, blankets, tarpaulins, sleeping pads, water tanks, jerry cans, generators and tents. Air Partner was able to use our extensive experience to provide air charters in the face of these highly challenging circumstances and the cargo on these flights was essential to the fight against Ebola. Having an extensive network of relationships and working around the clock, allowed us to provide high levels of service to our customers and secure flight permits for landing overseas to ensure the shipments were delivered rapidly.

Sochi Express  

Cargo type: Sports equipment  
Purpose: Exclusive cargo service to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014 
Route: Frankfurt, Germany – Sochi, Russia 
Period: Weekly / 13 weeks 
Aircraft: Boeing B747-400F 

For the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, an exclusive Air Partner air cargo service, called “Sochi Express”, using 747-400F equipment operated every Monday morning between the 18th November 2013 and 7th February 2014, from Frankfurt, directly to Sochi, on the Russian Black Sea coast.

The relatively remote geographical location of Sochi means that it wasn’t particularly well served by scheduled European airlines and so there was very limited air freight capacity directly from Europe. Therefore many freight shipments had to be routed via Moscow and were then trucked on to Sochi, involving a long transit time.  

This full freighter service “Sochi Express” was the only non-stop air service scheduled between Europe and Sochi. Besides a full charter service, we also offered the option to book even as little as one aircraft pallet on the service. Pricewise, the rates were very competitive compared to the existing indirect alternative by air & road and with a flight time of only around 3 hours, the “Sochi Express” provided the fastest option.  

Air Partner also offered warehouse facilities in Frankfurt Cargo City, who were ready to take delivery of the first shipments. Over the period of three months Air Partner delivered over 1000 tons of cargo on 13 flights.

Moving a 14-Carriage Exhibition Train 

Cargo type: 14-carriage exhibition train  
Purpose: Movement of a train   
Route: Hawaii – Chicago 
Aircraft: Antonov 225 and two AN-124s 

Air Partner was on hand when our client requested the transport of a 14-carriage exhibition train from Hawaii to Chicago using the world’s one and only 250-ton capacity Antonov 225.  

The train, owned by a big industrial company, was on its worldwide exhibition road show and the company were originally planning to send it to its next destination, Chicago, by sea. However, the ship was delayed in Hawaii due to technical issues and so the company called on us to provide a cargo charter to ensure it reached Chicago in time for the exhibition. We provided the quickest possible air cargo charter solution which was an AN-225 and two AN-124s. 

The immense logistics of moving the 1,000 ft train on these aircraft involved sending an Air Partner representative to supervise a relay operation across the Pacific. At the same time, our freight teams in the UK and Germany worked in tandem day and night to ensure successful completion of the outsize contract. Negotiating use of the giant AN-225, which was based in Eastern Europe at the time, was challenging due to lack of availability, but thanks to our good relationship with the airline, we were able to organise this aircraft to transport this gigantic cargo reliably and on time.

Air Partner’s freight department can charter aircraft of all sizes to fly cargo anywhere, at any time, whatever its weight, size or shape. Serving freight forwarders, governments, relief and humanitarian organisations, the freight team provides bespoke air charter and onboard Courier (OBC) solutions to meet the widest range of transport requirements.


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