Turkish Cargo: On a mission

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Turkish Cargo: On a mission


Turkish Cargo is on a mission. Through its #MissionRescue project, the Turkish carrier is taking action and transporting wild animals back to their natural habitat.

“It’s our responsibility to make the world a more liveable place, and build our vision of a sustainable future,” the carrier writes about the project.

One such success story was that of three depressed circus lions that were held captive in the Ukraine. Turkish Cargo transported the two lionesses and the young lion back to their natural habitat in South Africa.

With the help of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation the lions travelled almost 12,000 km from Kiev to Kragga Kamma Natural Park where they were finally set free.

Fatih Ciğal, senior vice president of cargo marketing, Turkish Cargo spoke to ACW about how the airline helps animals like these circus lions move from one side of the globe to the other.

“As Turkish Cargo, we defend animal rights and contribute to survival of the wild life,” Ciğal said.

“We have agreements and memberships with many international organisations which aim to transport live animals in secure and safe conditions. Organisations and communities that we are members of include; United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration (UFW); Animal Transportation Association (ATA); The Wildlife Conservation Foundation (WWF); International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA); and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).”

Ciğal noted that Turkish is no stranger to an exotic animal. The carrier has helped transport live animals including reptiles, turtles, monkeys, parrots camels, lions, tigers, gazelles, cheetahs, zebras, antelope, rhinoceros, giraffes, horses etc… to name just a handful.

“A recent example, we carried racehorses from Houston to Baghdad and from Chicago to Istanbul in February, and from Doha to Baghdad in March.

“At Turkish Cargo we assume the responsibility of protecting wildlife and ensure that the endangered species can continue their lives in healthy environments. This is part of our #MissionRescue project.”

Underwater, above the clouds

Transporting cargo that can move comes with its own unique set of challenge and is not always plane sailing. Ciğal told ACW the reality is that all animals need special care and each special shipment has its own standards, requirements and challenges. Every shipment must also adhere to IATA and other local and international bodies’ regulations and procedures so that safety and operational issues are minimised. He noted that for this reason these animal shipments are given extra attention and time.

“For example Turkish Cargo carried 1.5 million live Gilt-head breams weighing 100 tonne to Oman from Izmir by providing the environment, needed by the fish underwater, but above the clouds.

“The 100 tonnes of live fish was required to be transported to Oman from Bodrum in a period of 40 hours. They were first taken on trucks and carried to Izmir, which took three hours and then they were loaded on to our freighter equipped with special techniques by our cargo handling officers.

“We were able to carry them within 24 hours in total. We accomplished this operation by utilising our Boeing 777F freighter in accordance with IATA LAR (Live Animals Regulations). This shipment reinforced our success in transportation of live animals that require the utmost level of care. Carrying 1,5 million live fish by means of a freighter requires accurate air-conditioning, and expertise in oxygen and temperature checks.”

Safe in the skies

Ensuring animals are safe in the skies is down the trained personnel on board. As exotic and non-pet live animals can only be accepted as cargo, there are stringent procedures to ensure their safety.

“We have unique procedures for every variety of live animal we transport, from racehorses, live fish, zoo animals travelling as part of conservation efforts, etc.,” explained Ciğal.

Turkish Cargo fulfils all requirements, ensuring; the amount of required space in the cargo compartment is available; the environment conditions in those compartments (ventilation rates and airflow direction, heating and cooling provisions); the best possible loading location within the cargo compartments; the necessity of in-flight attendance; the availability of ground storage facilities; the loading of the animal on the aircraft must be performed within the shortest waiting time possible as of the take-off of the aircraft; and that the time spent on the apron before loading is as short as possible.”

On the ground

Back at Turkish’s hub at Istanbul Airport, the IATA CEIV Live Animal accredited carrier has made several investments to improve live animal services on the ground.

The facilities include two live animal waiting and care rooms, specially designed for livestock shipments as well as a larger (approximately 730 m2) dedicated live animal facility which will be inaugurated at the SmartIST, Turkish Cargo’s mega facility at the Airport.

SmartIST is being built to handle 4 million tonnes of annual capacity and will consolidate Turkish Cargo’s operations to a single hub.

The animal facilities will be state-of-the-art. Features will include the possibility of removing animal odour and disinfecting smells, whilst also providing a constant room temperature of 20 °C. There will be proper ventilation so that the air circulation provides fresh air by venting the dirty air inside. The facility will also offer dedicated areas for different types of animals.

With this in mind, Turkish Cargo confirms it is more than ready to deal with an increase in animal shipments as the world gets back on its feet and the aviation industry get back in the sky. “We have been accredited with IATA CEIV Live Animal Certification, therefore we plan to be an air cargo brand, which regularly renews itself via continuous improvement activities.”