The new year at Frankfurt Main Airport in Germany began with a massive Covid-19 testing campaign for all airfreight handling staff employed by FCS Frankfurt Cargo Services, LUG aircargo handling, and Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF). Given the increased risk of infection over the Christmas holidays, the test campaign over the first weeks of JAN21 was carried out to ensure a safe working environment, naturally complemented by the continued wearing of masks and use of sanitizers.
While the press release does not disclose if anyone tested positive, it does state that around 1500 employees were tested in all, in what proved to be its own logistical challenge. Harald Störk, Managing Director of Chemlab, the nearby Bensheim-based company responsible for carrying out the tests, was pleased with how the campaign went: "Conducting the tests during ongoing shift operations was a logistical challenge that we were able to successfully overcome in a joint action with the freight handlers. Thanks to the good and flexible interaction of all the companies involved, we were able to test everyone quickly and efficiently."
You cannot do frontline work from home
Those 1500 staff together handle roughly 40% of all the cargo that passes through Frankfurt Airport, and thus represent a good portion of the staff currently working there. Despite the pandemic leading to a huge reduction in passenger flights over the past 10 months, in fact cargo – and especially the extra work created by the high volumes of imported personal protective equipment being flown in and the increase in smaller shipments travelling on preighters – has mushroomed. Up to three times the amount of cargo was handled by FCS Frankfurt Cargo Services and LUG aircargo handling staff compared to 2019 – and physical handling can only be done on-site, as Rainer Wittenfeld, PCF Managing Director underlined: "The staff of operational logistics has no opportunity to take advantage of home office protection. This presence at the workplace is unavoidable and we need to protect our employees as best we can. The quick testing campaign also gives families a bit of security," welcoming the test campaign for Europe's largest air cargo hub for perishable goods.
Ensuring smooth 24/7 operations during the crisis
Nina Strippel, site manager and COO at LUG aircargo handling, illustrated the measures taken to keep things running around the clock, in an environment which relies on trained and authorized staff in all areas of the airport handling chain to remain healthy and fit to work, at the same time acting in an ever-changing environment with regard to scheduled and charter flights: "We established a crisis team in the company at an early stage, which consulted frequently and initiated measures adapted to the respective situation. Through consistent implementation, we comprehensively protect our personnel. The protection of our employees has top priority for us, which is why we strongly supported the testing initiative."
Health and safety first at all times
Claus Wagner, Managing Director of FCS, emphasized the company's infection protection concept and the importance of safety in the workplace: "The WFS Group, to which FCS belongs, has worldwide taken consistent protective measures since the beginning of the pandemic. Even in times with lower public case numbers, we have paid strong attention to compliance with the mask requirement and our hygiene concepts. The health of our employees is also a main concern for our shareholders WFS Worldwide Flight Services and Fraport AG. Especially after the holidays, we want our employees to be able to return to work with a good and safe feeling. As one of the largest cargo handlers at Frankfurt Airport, we must maintain our operational logistics processes for air cargo handling at all times."
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