This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Universal Weather & Aviation undertook a big task last week to facilitate the delivery of one million face masks and a half-million Covid-19 test kits from China to the U.S. through the donation of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Universal noted on a March 19 blog post. Leveraging its teams in China, Hong Kong, and Houston, Universal said it was able to navigate around the flight bans and restrictions that were literally expanding by the minute, including the U.S. ban on air traffic from China.
The March 16 effort included Universal’s logistics and regulatory experts, the latter of whom “were relentless, burning up the phones with our contacts at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to secure the required permissions.” It also had to determine where in the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could take possession of the cargo that was transported by a Boeing 777.
It was air cargo carrier FedEx and its facility in Memphis, Tennessee, that stepped up to receive and handle the cargo. In all, Universal said the effort took nearly 100 phone calls and 72 hours of around-the-clock work to get all the flight permissions. “With literally minutes to spare, the final permissions came in, and the flight was able to successfully land,” Universal said.