Blown Away: Reconnecting broken supply chains

On a Tuesday in Mexico City, employees at DSV Air & Sea, S.A. de C.V. were in the middle of a normal workday in the head office when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck, killing more than 350 people.

“People were scared, running in the street,” said Torge Koehnke, vice president for Latin America with DSV Air & Sea, but everyone in that office would make it through unscathed. The people of Mexico would quickly organize to collect food and come together in support of those affected by the earthquake – much like the humanitarian responses from inside and outside communities across Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico following an unusually active hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

However, with a widespread diversion of resources to deal with the resulting humanitarian crises, and normal life still not resumed in some places, how should the airfreight community go about reinstating normal operations?

Back to business in Mexico

While emergency workers would spend days in Mexico City moving rubble from collapsed buildings to rescue people trapped during the earthquake, truck and air logistics resumed operations almost immediately, which Mike Gamel, CEO of road feeder trucking service Mexpress Transportation, attributes to Mexico’s careful preparation and implementation of its emergency plan.

On the day of the earthquake, while Mexico City International Airport sustained some damage, “they let us continue with trucking into the airport as normal service,” even while flights were cancelled or diverted to other airports including Toluca and Cancun, Gamel said. Tarmac 2 at the airport was damaged, but had been repaired within five hours and resumed operations on the same day, he added.

The larger effects felt in Mexico were actually fallout from the hurricanes that affected the United States, according to DSV’s Koehnke, who noted that freight coming into Mexico from the U.S. is experiencing a bottleneck as trucks are diverted into disaster areas, “which drives up the freight rate into Mexico,” he added.

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