Road Transport Villeneuve-la-Garenne was responsible for transporting masks arriving via the air bridge with China, from airports to various delivery locations in France. Isabelle Brossard, site director, tells us how.

How did you get this assignment?

Isabelle Brossard: Commissioned by the French government to carry masks by air from China, the Freight Forwarding division of GEODIS contacted us in turn to handle onward shipment of the pallets from various airports. Around fifty lorries transferred them to delivery locations in France, as a priority to a warehouse in the Vendée region of western France, but also to government ministries.

How do you pull off a high-stakes operation like this in the midst of a crisis?

I. B.: First and foremost, we succeeded in adapting our resources. Not all the pallets had the same dimensions, and the flights risked being delayed or re-routed to a different airport (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, etc.). We had to manage unexpected events such as these with a reduced team, some of whose members were in lockdown, in order to deliver on time.

The other major constraint was customs procedures. We have the requisite expertise at Villeneuve-la-Garenne, and we had to take great care in obtaining clearance for these goods. We therefore worked very closely with the customs agencies at Freight Forwarding.

Lastly and above all, the stringent security requirements for these consignments forced us to form double crews or set up changeovers so as to guarantee protection for our drivers. Some of them said they felt like CIT drivers!

What did you take away from this experience?

I. B.: We learnt a lot! Our expertise has been enhanced by an infallible agility, that could only have come about as a result of a crisis of this size. We broke away from our standard practices with time as our main enemy. Due to this health crisis, long-lasting links have been woven within our team and between our different lines of business. I am very proud of them!