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Staff trained to handle perishables: Perera

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

What goes into the handling of perishable cargo items? Chaminda Perera, General Manager, SriLankan Cargo offers a clear perspective. He says the staff is trained to carry out ramp transfers of perishable goods in 60 minutes or less between connecting flights.

Air transportation is preferred for perishable goods, which are time and temperature sensitive. They have a shorter shelf life and require special storage requirements. Airlines, therefore, have a responsibility to provide a temperature-controlled environment for consignments of perishable goods at the cargo terminal, onboard the aircraft, and while in transit.

Cargo terminals are equipped with cold room storage facilities, thermal blankets, freezer trucks, and airline employees are trained in handling perishable goods to ensure the quality of the goods are preserved during transit. SriLankan Cargo, air freight arm of SriLankan Airlines, and sole ground handler for passenger and cargo in Sri Lanka, records an annual throughput of 250,000 metric tons. It anticipates handling of perishables to double, facilitated by the inclusion of the new import terminal at Bandaranaike International Airport in 2023.

SriLankan Cargo has comprehensive protocols in place for handling of perishable cargo, beginning with ensured quality of the workforce deployed. Precedence is given to ensuring an adequate number of employees are kept in place 24x7. SriLankan Cargo maintains a workforce to ensure that customers’ perishable goods are delivered in the exact quality and condition they were received. Training is imparted to carry out ramp transfers in 60 minutes or less between connecting flights. This ensures that perishable cargo is managed effectively and shifted to storage in minimum time.

Attention to detail

Perishables are covered in thermal blankets, while being transferred between the terminal and aircraft to preserve freshness. The SriLankan Cargo facility in Katunayake terminal is equipped with 11 freezer and cool rooms capable of maintaining temperatures between 2°C and 25°C. The cool rooms, spread over 280 sq. mtrs., have a racking system and an in-built temperature monitoring system that keep an eye out for temperature fluctuations via text messages and emails. The cut-off time for delivery of perishable cargo to the SriLankan Cargo terminal is six hours, before the flight’s departure, which is half the cut-off time stipulated for general cargo at SriLankan cargo terminal.

- CT Bureau


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