• DTS.USA
    5.811
    -0.009
    -0.2%
  • NTI.USA
    2.860
    0.000
    0%
  • NTID.USA
    2.900
    0.060
    2.1%
  • NTIDL.USA
    2.000
    0.060
    3.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.180
    0.090
    1.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,818.890
    -172.860
    -1.3%
  • DTS.USA
    5.811
    -0.009
    -0.2%
  • NTI.USA
    2.860
    0.000
    0%
  • NTID.USA
    2.900
    0.060
    2.1%
  • NTIDL.USA
    2.000
    0.060
    3.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    8.180
    0.090
    1.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,818.890
    -172.860
    -1.3%
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Freight Caviar: 8 facts about humanitarian shipments to Ukraine

Polish Forwarding Co. and Seko Logistics help get cargo where it’s needed

This commentary was written by Freight Caviar founder Paul-Bernard Jaroslawski. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

By Paul-Bernard Jaroslawski

The war in Ukraine has been going on since Feb. 24. As a former freight broker, I wanted to get a deeper understanding of how humanitarian shipments work. What goods are being shipped and from where? How do the shipments that pass through Poland make it to Ukraine? 

To get a clearer picture, I sat down with Bartosz Samulak from the Polish Forwarding Co. and Brian Bourke from Seko Logistics to answer some questions about humanitarian shipments to Ukraine. 

Where are most of the shipments coming from?

Humanitarian aid is coming from all over the world, but Samulak said the largest cargo flow is coming from the United States and the U.K. 

“Cooperating with Seko logistics, we handle most of the cargo coming from the U.S.,” Samulak said. He told me about an airfreight charter that PFC recently completed, which was an airplane loaded with 122 pallets (35 tons). The airfreight flew out of Chicago.

What about partnerships with nonprofit organizations?

“We support Airlink, which is an amazing nonprofit that works with the airlines, to find available capacity,” Bourke said. “The airlines then donate to Airlink and then subsequently to the charities that are donating humanitarian aid and relief.” 

Airlink provides aid during crises around the world, whether it is an earthquake in Haiti or a volcano eruption in Tonga. Bourke said the airfreight shipment to Ukraine was a massive operation. It involved moving goods from a warehouse in Denver to Chicago, then flying to Europe via Liege, Belgium, and then on to Warsaw, Poland. This was a chartered aircraft. Commercial airlines that have been the most active in humanitarian shipments to Ukraine are United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. 

What is the cost of a charter?

“I think most of the companies know that this is for humanitarian aid so you don’t see the market rate,” Bourke said. “I don’t know what the final cost was, but we were getting quotes that were anywhere between $250,000 and $400,000.” So it depends on the type of airplane and how many pallets it is able to accommodate. Bourke said PFC has been doing an amazing job handling these humanitarian shipments, regardless of where they are shipped from.

How does the process work?

“It used to be that we would tell [Samulak] what was coming, and usually it was the day before because everything was urgent,” Bourke said. “Now we have Bart join on calls with the nonprofits and talk about options and timelines.” For example, because a lot of fuel depots are being hit in Ukraine, there is a fuel shortage. That is creating long lines at the border and more travel restrictions. The team in Poland and Ukraine need time to suggest the best options to make the process move faster. From my understanding, coordination is vital, and because there are many moving parts, one small detail can derail the whole process. According to Samulak, his team needs to be proactive as well as cooperate with the Ukrainian Embassy to get official data about the situation in the country.

How do the shipments go from Poland to Ukraine?

Taking the example of the 122 pallets of airfreight, PFC took the shipment to its warehouse in Warsaw to sort it out. The goods were labeled correctly and put on trucks. The correct documentation was prepared and the goods were shipped to Ukraine. Typically, the aid is destined for Lviv or Kyiv.

What is the cost of a shipment to Kyiv?

Before the war, the cost was between $1,000 and $1,200 for the linehaul. Now, because of the war, high fuel prices and shortage of drivers, the cost might range from $2,500 to $4,000. I was also informed that most of the truck drivers are Polish. This is because it is not easy to get Ukrainian truckers; men below the age of 60 are not allowed to leave the country.

What are the most shipped items in the humanitarian shipments?

“Most of what we are doing in the U.S. is medical supplies,” Bourke said. From what he shared on the last airfreight shipment, there were items such as bandages, syringes, supplements, medical equipment, hospital beds, wheelchairs and military first-aid kits.

What was the value of the 122-pallet shipment?

Because the shipment was donated goods, no commercial invoice was issued, so it is difficult to determine the exact value of the cargo. There is a declaration of donations, but the real value of the shipment is not as important as providing humanitarian aid where it is needed. That is one of the hallmarks of humanitarian shipments.

Contributed Content

Note: FreightWaves occasionally publishes commentary from industry sources with expertise, information and opinion on current transportation topics. The opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of FreightWaves. Submissions to FreightWaves are subject to editing.

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