Coronavirus

Lufthansa airlifts food to the UK amid lorry chaos

BBC News

GERMANY’S Lufthansa is airlifting fresh fruit and vegetables to the UK today (Dec. 23) as firms seek to beat the lorry chaos at sea ports

The airline said it is carrying 80 tonnes of food from Frankfurt to Doncaster Sheffield Airport for grocers including Tesco and Sainbury’s.

Almost 3,000 lorries remain stuck in Kent despite moves to re-start cross-Channel access from Dover.

There are concerns that testing drivers for Covid could delay food supplies.

France shut its border with the UK on Sunday for 48 hours to stop the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus found in the UK.

“Lufthansa Cargo is currently examining whether additional special cargo flights can be offered during the next days. We are also checking if a regular flight might be possible,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

“This could be with a freighter, but we are also examining if we could use passenger aircraft for freight flights only,” she added.

As well as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Lufthansa said the cargo is also destined for Aldi and the Co-op.

Some firms have been chartering private aircraft to move goods such as food, textiles and livestock as the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel closed.

French residents and nationals who can prove they have had a negative coronavirus test will be able to travel from today, and lorry drivers can do so after a rapid lateral flow Covid test.

The food imports will be flown from Frankfurt, a major food distribution centre in Europe that receives goods from food producers all over the continent including Spain, the Netherlands and France.

BACKLOG
Although France has given the go-ahead for travel from the UK to resume, the International Road Transport Union warned that testing truck drivers will cause significant delays.

“We don’t think testing will work. The backlog can’t be cleared if the tests take 30 minutes per driver,” said Raluca Marian, the union’s general delegate to the EU.

Britain imports nearly half of its fresh vegetables and the majority of its fruit, both mainly from the EU.
CAPTION:
Top: Despite assurances that plenty of food will be available, some shoppers have found empty shelves. Photo: BBC

(Report by Mary-Ann Russon, business reporter, BBC news)

Nina
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