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Blown Away: Reconnecting broken supply chains

Still hurting from hurricanes

Of course, the repercussions from the hurricanes are still being felt by survivors, as well as across the air cargo logistics chain. Julian Soell, managing director of cargo operations and customer experience with Delta Cargo, said the carrier took steps to prepare before the hurricanes hit.

“We have an operations and customer center – if you think about NASA having mission control, this is Delta’s equivalent,” he said. The center includes a team of meteorologists that evaluates major storm systems “so we understand the implications of what impact they might have on our flight schedule, and we can cancel flights in a proactive manner. If you can make an early decision, it’s a good way to minimize downstream disruptions.”

Delta also recently added a cargo control center “which gives us ability to track and monitor freight around the world whether it’s trucked or flown, giving us much better proactive management of shipments,” said Soell.

With its early information on the likely path of Hurricane Irma as it approached Florida, Delta redirected its flights to send more aircraft into affected areas and depart with more people trying to leave the path of the storm. “Our goal was to be the last one out of those areas in terms of operations, and being the first to start up,” Soell said, and indeed, West Palm Beach was one of the first airports to resume service in South Florida when a Delta flight departed from the airport on Sept. 11 after all flights the day before were cancelled.

The impact from the damage to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria is still being felt on the human side, but also as far as logistics are concerned. Carriers, freight forwarders and other links in the logistics chain have made heroic efforts to assist with relief efforts and to resume operations to and within the U.S. territory.

A UPS spokesperson said that while it is still too early to tell how long air cargo routes will be impacted, as of Oct. 2 the Atlanta-based integrator had resumed limited service to and from Puerto Rico, and pickup and delivery in most of San Juan. Soell, at Delta, also said freight pickup and drop-off from San Juan’s airport has been steady from Delta’s perspective, with no delays as “people expecting the freight are very eager to pick it up.”

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