GEODIS uses AN-124 for oversized shipments in Colombia

GEODIS has used an Antonov AN-124 to operate 13 flights over seven days to transport oversized thermocompressors in Colombia.

The just-in-time operation transported 249 pieces of oversized cargo totalling 776 tons and 4,455 cubic metres to southeast Colombia.

The original plan was to mobilise the cargo in Cartagena and transport it via the La Orquidea Bridge in Boyaca, the only road option for freight of the size and weight.

The bridge collapsed in August 2023 so GEODIS had to find an alternative and air transport was the only solution.

GEODIS evaluated various options and concluded that the AN-124 was the only suitable aircraft, which required a lot planning due to its limited availability because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Antonov’s focus on humanitarian aid.

Carlos Palacios, Managing Director of GEODIS in Colombia said it was a complex operation of one international flight and 12 domestic flights.

He says, “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.”

Once the AN-124 was secured, GEODIS had to find suitable airports, selecting Barranquilla and Apiay due to the payload and technical conditions of their runways.

In Apiay, a military base for the Colombian Aerospace Force, GEODIS conducted a study to determine the correct manoeuvres for landing and take-off at the aircraft location so as not to interrupt military base operations, fuel supply capacity and the availability of an alternative facility during ground time.

The cargo was prepared in Cartagena and transported by land to Barranquilla before flying in the AN-124.

The maximum accepted payload for landing in Apiay is 65 tons, below the AN-124’s capacity of 100 tons, so GEODIS oversaw adjustments to the flight plans and load with Antonov, which meant 12 domestic flights.

GEODIS and Antonov adjusted the load to mobilise the 12 separate pieces including removing crates from the parts, placing 12 additional lashing points inside the aircraft, removing stairs to fit the biggest piece of cargo and more.

Palacios says, “Given the constant changes, urgency of timeline and sensitive nature of the cargo, this project marks one of the biggest accomplishments for our GEODIS in Colombia team. Together with our collaborators, we proved that with flexibility and world-class talent we can overcome extreme challenges and execute exceptional air operations on behalf of our clients.”