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Breaking: US launches emergency airlift with private cargo carriers

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has launched Project Airbridge to expedite the delivery of critical supplies from international locations to distributors around the United States. The first all-cargo plane in the airlift landed Sunday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, President Donald Trump said in his daily coronavirus press briefing.

In a statement, FEMA said the freighter carried 80 tons of personal protective equipment, including 130,000 N95 respirators, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 30 million gloves and thousands of thermometers for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The White House said the plane came from Shanghai, China.

New York City is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. There are more than 139,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,400 deaths nationwide.

The president said the emergency airlift will involve 50 flights. Healthcare distributors involved in the effort include Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., Medline, Owens & Minor, Henry Schein Inc.

FEMA did not respond to requests for more details, but a UPS official participated in the Rose Garden briefing and other express carriers are likely involved in the effort.

“The way we’re going to win this war is with great logistics,” said Laura Lane, president of global public affairs at UPS.

(This is a developing story)

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2).

Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at