Saturday, 3 October 2020

When the going gets tough, the tough get going


We are now adjusting our lives and getting used to a “new normal” living with Covid-19, however when the pandemic first struck, we were thrown off balance. Staying at home became a global phenomenon, and everyone was told to head out only if you’re working in essential services or to buy daily necessities. It was a challenging period, but we tide through the season with the support of our heroes working behind the scenes, who played their part in ensuring that there are adequate medical and food supplies for everyone.

Air travel was curtailed but it did not come to a standstill. Captain Arnold Sugirtharaj (B744F freighter fleet), Senior First Officer Shaun Lu (B787-10 fleet), Liyana Binti Ramli (Acting Line Maintenance Executive) and Jeremiah Ho (Duty Manager, Cargo Hub Operations & ULD management) worked tirelessly to ensure flights carrying food items and medical supplies continued to take off and land.

SIA Cargo
The team at SIA Cargo helped to keep the supply chains open

When hospitals needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) urgently, the pilots helped to keep the supply chains open and ensured prompt delivery to the hospitals by getting supplies from overseas. Their contributions also helped keep the supermarket shelves stocked with daily necessities and perishables during this challenging time.

During the shoot documenting Singapore Airlines’ role in keeping the global supply chain open, the production team waited patiently on the tarmac for Captain Arnold’s arrival, as he returned from Australia on the B747-400 freighter with mainly fresh produce. He waved to the team while still seated inside the cockpit after the aircraft was parked.

Singapore Airlines cargo
The production team got a behind-the-scenes look into the work behind cargo shipping and handling

As the engines were shut down, it was the cargo handlers’ turn to take over unloading of cargo from the aircraft. The cargo containers were carefully unloaded and sent to the respective storage area over at Coolport, a temperature-controlled facility. Liyana’s team then carried out maintenance of the aircraft for the next flight, which was planned and scheduled by Jeremiah and his colleagues. The handover from one team to the next ran like a well-oiled machine – seamless and well-coordinated.

Jeremiah also brought the team to Coolport to have a closer look at what happens to cargo after arriving in Singapore. Depending on the content and storage needs, the cargo would be sorted and sent to different chillers or freezers of varying temperatures. The team was amazed to see the care taken in handling these items, which range from fresh fruits to seafood and meat, during the transportation process, before they eventually reach the consumers.

SIA Cargo
Passenger aircrafts are used to transport cargo secured on passenger seats

The team was also given an insider look into a Tokyo-bound 787-10 aircraft, where boxes of cargo containing health supplements were strapped securely onto passenger seats. To meet cargo demand and better utilise the aircrafts, passenger aircrafts are used to transport cargo secured on passenger seats. Layers of bubble wrap were used to cover each seat and the cargo handling agents took extra care during the loading and unloading process to ensure the seats were not damaged. Cargo also had to be securely fastened to the seats to prevent them from dislodging during the flight.

We wanted to capture the stories of those who have been helping to bring in essential supplies to Singapore, and so we came.” says Yeo Kai Wen, producer and director of the documentary. Kai Wen and his team hope that this video will highlight the strength, resilience and solidarity of the people behind the national flag carrier, mirroring the same spirit that has been seen in all Singaporeans during this global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore Airlines SIA cargo aircraft sunset
SIA’s cargo plane at sunset

SEE ALSO: Singapore Airlines Cargo: An essential service for a global market

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