Cargo to Haiti


Finnair’s relief flights to Haiti carried a field hospital, family tents and Red Cross relief workers.

Finnair’s January 2010 relief flight to Haiti required careful preparations in advance.

“Flying into a crisis area is always a challenge,” says Heikki Nikamaa from Finnair Cargo. “When you’re getting ready, you have to take into consideration the details of how the cargo will be transported and how it will be unloaded at the destination, for instance. In a crisis area, the unloading and freight handling venues are understandably limited.”

Finnair’s MD-11 plane was loaded in Helsinki with medicine, water, family tents and hospital equipment. Along with Nikamaa, the Finnish Red Cross relief workers and Finnair’s flight crew, the plane carried also a Finnair mechanic and an employee from the ground services organisation.

The next stop was Berlin, where another Red Cross relief group boarded the plane. The aircraft’s original destination was Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, because it did not have clearance to land in the Haitian capital Port au Prince. The supplies were then to be trucked in from the Dominican Republic to Haiti.

Teamwork in challenging circumstances

“To our surprise, we received clearance to land in Port au Prince at the last moment. After we landed, we had to wait before the transport unit could be removed from the plane, but then everything started rolling. Within three hours the delivery was unloaded and we were ready to head for Miami and then back home,” Nikamaa says.

Port au Prince airport was crowded with helicopters, airplanes and other transport equipment. It was not easy landing or operating in these cramped surroundings, but it all went well.

“You could clearly sense the desire to help and a shared goal. It was great to able to help and to see how everybody works together when help is needed,” Nikamaa says.

Read more about Finnish Red Cross' work in Haiti:

Text by Eeva-Maria Lidman
Photo by Heikki Nikamaa, Finnair Cargo

Published August 16, 2011

Category: Collaboration, Finnair Cargo