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COVID-19 – source of export roadblocks for shipping live animals

Article submitted by Animal Transportation Association (ATA) – TIACA Affiliate Member





Written by: Robin Turner, Executive Director

It all started in the spring of this year, when it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would limit the availability of flights, and thus the ability to export primary breeding stock to certain locations. The breeding industry is committed to ensuring a safe and secure supply of breeding stock to customers around the world, and our members take this commitment seriously. Thus, when three poultry producers in Bangladesh requested breeding chicks at the time when the pandemic struck, the logistics teams set out to find an innovative solution to assure food security for the people of Bangladesh.

It is times like these when the industry and members of the global food supply chain band together, and this was the moment for key export players – the airline, freight forwarders, ground handling crews – to shine. When member contacted Qatar Airways Cargo with the dilemma, Qatar offered a workable solution: Their normal flight traveling from Doha, Qatar, to Hong Kong would first make a stop in Bangladesh to deliver the day-old chicks.

Helping put #FoodOnEveryTable in Bangladesh during COVID-19

On May 30, ATA Member Aviagen® customers Kazi Grandparents Ltd., Nahar Agro Complex Ltd., and Aftab Hatchery Ltd., anxiously awaited Qatar Airways Cargo flight #8344 at the Dhaka International Airport in Bangladesh. This would mark the first time in the industry’s history that birds bound for three different poultry producers would travel together on the same transcontinental flight. The great news is, the shipment arrived on time, and the customers were delighted with healthy and robust day-old broiler breeding chicks.

Made up of 168,760 birds, this represents the largest single shipment of grandparent and parent stock chicks ever – translating to 110,393,893 kilograms (243,376,874 pounds) of meat for the Bangladeshi people. This monumental accomplishment was possible by the dedicated teams who worked behind the scenes to put #FoodOnEverTable in Bangladesh – a country with 165 million people and a growing economy.

Well-planned logistics

The birds were shipped from three locations – Chicago in the United States, and Paris and Amsterdam in Europe – all converging in Doha, Qatar. From there they boarded the diverted flight of a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 freighter to travel to Bangladesh, where they were dispatched to the individual customer farms. The chicks arrived safely and on time on May 30.

3Cs to success

All teams would agree that the 3 Cs — communication, collaboration, cooperation – made this enterprise a success. The team was in constant communication with the customers, as well as the airline, freight forwarder, and agricultural ministries. The entire crew – including global export and logistics teams; the customer agent; business and sales managers; the airline and JAS and NNR freight forwarders — had regular online meetings to plan and discuss the countless details leading to a successful shipment, proactively anticipating any issues and planning eventual solutions. Partly due to this upfront communication, preparation and outstanding teamwork, the birds cleared Customs in an unprecedented amount of time. Another honorable mention goes to the ground handlers who are dedicated to bird welfare and are specially trained in proper bird care. You can well imagine that offloading and onloading 16 pallets of live birds requires above-and-beyond coordination and expertise.

“We owe the successful delivery of this mega shipment to the seamless coordination between these dedicated people who worked relentlessly, often late hours across multiple time zones, to come through for our valued customers, and ultimately for the people of Bangladesh. We couldn’t be more pleased with the great outcome.”

The Animal Transportation Association (ATA) is a non-profit association dedicated to the safe and humane transportation of animals – worldwide.  ATA’s members comprise the entire spectrum of those concerned with the transportation of animals, such as airlines, truckers & shipping firms, government agencies throughout the world, universities & research organizations, breeders, importers/exporters, veterinarians, and many more involved in the many phases of animal transportation. Our Association offers solutions to a variety of challenges related to the transport of animals and at the same time, link members to information, resources, contacts, and key developments. ATA provides a means for making research needs known, encouraging research, disseminating findings and encourages uniform and effective international regulations and humane handling of live animals.

ATA and its members continue its dedication to helping the industry innovate and grow through insights, connections and expertise. We enable animal transporters to connect, share & solve problems together.  

For more information on ATA, please visit our website at: 

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