Flights carrying personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport this week as the facility continues efforts to expand as a logistics center, officials said Tuesday. The flights were carrying supplies for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
An airport spokesperson said the first National Airlines flight arrived Saturday, carrying 150,000 N95 masks, which will be distributed through the federal government to hospitals, nursing homes, and other high-risk facilities nationwide. The repurposed passenger Boeing 757 jet arrived from Korea after a brief stop in Anchorage, Alaska. A second flight arrived Monday. Both flights are part of FEMA Project Air Bridge, which is supporting the movement of medical supplies into the United States.
The FEMA flights reflect Pittsburgh’s expansion to accommodate more cargo traffic and its efforts become an international logistics center, airport officials said. Last fall, Pittsburgh International received a grant for nearly $19 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a 75,000-square-foot cargo processing facility and an adjacent surface parking lot to expand air cargo operations. The expansion will allow for larger aircraft, new cargo destinations on all-freighter aircraft, or additional parking for carriers such as FedEx or UPS, officials also said.
“The secret we have at Pittsburgh International is the speed, whether it’s the short aircraft taxi time on the airfield, the time it takes to offload cargo, or to build up and break down the freight that goes on the trucks,” Bryan Dietz, vice president, air service development at PIT, said in a statement Tuesday. “The speed of how this airport community keeps freight in motion gives us a competitive edge.”
To see further coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it's affecting the logistics industry, check out our Covid-19 landing page. And click here for our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.