FedEx details participation in FEMA-led airlift of COVID-19 relief

By , Daily Memphian Published: April 08, 2020 6:02 PM CT

FedEx Express, UPS and other cargo carriers say they’re on board with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Project Airbridge to move critical COVID-19 relief supplies into the U.S.

FedEx on Wednesday detailed its participation, including moving more than 450,000 Tyvek protective suits from Vietnam to Texas this week and planning to bring more than 500,000 additional suits each week. The shipment is in coordination with DuPont.

FedEx also is working with Medline Industries Inc. to move personal protective equipment from China to Illinois, including 7 million face masks, additional PPE and anesthesia supplies.

FedEx said it has contracted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for expedited shipping of equipment and supplies for COVID-19 relief. The shipments are going into the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, for FEMA-managed distribution to health care facilities and workers around the country.

Atlanta-based UPS said Tuesday it was managing and brokering 25 flights for Project Airbridge over the next two weeks. It said UPS flights would deliver more than 3 million pounds of materials: masks, surgical gowns, gloves, medical swabs and thermometers, from origin points including China, Malaysia and Honduras.

UPS also opened a new, 450,000 UPS Healthcare facility in Louisville, Kentucky, home of its UPS Air hub, with dedicated space for FEMA.

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“As a company, we are committed to providing our essential services as we help combat this pandemic,” Raj Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corp., said in a release on Wednesday.

“Our participation in the federal government’s Project Airbridge to transport critical PPE and medical supplies into the United States is the latest example of FedEx team members around the world coming together to keep critical supply chains moving,” he said.

FedEx’s involvement in the coronavirus pandemic so far has been massive.

‘Like military base on high alert,’ FedEx hub aids COVID-19 fight

It previously moved 4 million test swabs to cities across the U.S. and transported more than 150,000 test samples from remote test sites in the U.S. to diagnostic labs.

It has shipped more than 4 million masks and 1 million pieces of PPE to impacted areas of the world; shipped masks, gloves and disinfecting wipes to 1,000 community health centers and free clinics in the U.S.; and worked with International Medical Corps to transport and deploy 41 medical shelters in Los Angeles, New York and Puerto Rico.

Atlas Air and National Airlines also are involved in Project Airbridge.

Meanwhile, chairs of House committees on Homeland Security and Oversight and Reform asked FEMA Tuesday to account for the Project Airbridge cargo flight planning, where supplies are going and how the determination has been made.

A letter to FEMA Administrator Peter T. Gaynor questioned the role of President Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, in FEMA’s decision-making.

“After encouraging the States to take care of themselves, the Trump Administration now appears to be positioning FEMA to engage in the redirection of private supply chains — but the agency’s opaque and evolving processes are clearly not meeting the needs that communities have right now for PPE and medical supplies,” said the letter, signed by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York.


FedEx UPS FEMA coronavirus relief COVID-19 relief supply shipments
Wayne Risher

Wayne Risher

Business news reporter, 43-year veteran of print journalism, 35-year resident of Memphis, University of Georgia alumnus and proud father and spouse of University of Memphis graduates.


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