Mission: Difficult … but not impossible

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When global logistics services company Geodis agreed to move a load of oversized thermocompressors within Colombia for a client, it knew the job would be difficult, but not impossible. After all, the mission called for the just-in-time delivery of 249 pieces of oversized, overweight cargo totaling 776 tons and 4,455 cubic meters (157,327 cubic feet) to a site in the southeastern part of the country.

Geodis originally planned to mobilize the cargo in Cartagena and transport it to the end destination via the La Orquídea Bridge in Boyacá, the only road transportation option for freight of this size and weight. But when the bridge collapsed in August 2023, the job began to look impossible.

With highway transport off the table, Geodis was forced to look to the skies. After evaluating various air charter solutions, it identified the Antonov AN-124 as the only aircraft large enough to handle the cargo. Trouble was, the aircraft had only limited availability amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Antonov’s focus on humanitarian aid.

When the plane finally became available, Geodis arranged for it to fly to Colombia from Lisbon, Portugal, and then began a series of 65-ton shuttle flights between Barranquilla airport and Apiay, a military base for the Colombian Aerospace Force. In all, the aircraft undertook 12 of these shuttle flights over seven days, ultimately completing its mission on time and in full. 

“With 13 total flights, including a long international journey and 12 domestic trips, this unprecedented operation faced consistent challenges to overcome,” Carlos Palacios, manager director of Geodis in Colombia, said in a release. “Despite the complexities, our team at Geodis and our collaborators—including Antonov, the Colombian Air Force, and the individual airports involved—were able to successfully come together to keep essential materials moving across the country at a critical time for our client’s operations.”

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