More emergency FEMA flights arrive in US with coronavirus supplies

Pallets of freight inside a giant cargo plane.

The federal airlift of emergency medical supplies continued Thursday with at least two all-cargo planes making deliveries.

An all-cargo plane full of disposable medical gloves touched down in the morning at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, said Todd Crabtree, the Chicago-area general manager at STG Logistics. Atlas Air operated the flight.

Indianapolis-based InTek Freight & Logistics has subcontracted with STG to recover the cargo from the airport and create outbound loads for shipment to medical facilities. The gloves are being sent to Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio and Illinois, according to Crabtree.

STG, headquartered in Chicago, worked the cargo that came off freighters in New York and Chicago earlier this week.

The airlift is being coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is helping the Department of Health and Human Services to match health care facilities that need supplies for workers and patients with suitable overseas manufacturers and making arrangements to accelerate deliveries. FEMA’s Project Airbridge has chartered 19 cargo flights and says it plans to book more service to meet near-term demand. Atlas Air has provided transport on at least three missions so far.

Meanwhile, a National Airlines B747-400 arrived early Thursday morning at Rickenbacker International Airport with an 83-ton shipment of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer from Shanghai, according to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA).

The airport expected to handle a similar flight Wednesday, but FEMA diverted the shipment to Los Angeles.

“This morning’s shipment of critical medical supplies, during a time when they are needed most, illustrates the importance of keeping our airports open and operational during these challenging times,” said CRAA President Joe Nardone in a statement. “As a logistics hub, Rickenbacker offers a strategic advantage to quickly move goods where they are needed.”

The airport expects to receive two more shipments, with supplies shared with medical distributors in areas of greatest need.