Menzies Aviation: adapting and responding at speed to Covid-19


Robert Fordree, Executive Vice-President – Cargo at Menzies Aviation reveals how the group is meeting the challenges of bringing its workforce back safely as volumes show signs of a pick-up after our industry’s darkest hour

“Like everyone in aviation and logistics, we have been on a steep learning curve as our global organisation felt the impact of Covid-19 with adjustments to our planning needed on a daily, and in some cases, hourly basis.  Cargo carried on passenger aircraft, charter flights arriving with short notice and workforce planning with many employees on furlough have all become part of our ‘new normal’.

As we start to look ahead and plan with the forecasts available from our customers, we have had to quickly turn out attention to the best way to bring our teams back to work safely. We have created and rolled out a five step response plan in a matter of weeks which is now helping us to emerge from the early weeks and months of the crisis. 

Underpinned by our own MORSE code (Menzies Operating Responsibly, Safely & Effectively), this multi-media response plan makes use of digital content, dynamic risk assessments, coaching and active monitoring to help us deliver safe working spaces for our teams to return to. 

The five steps start with Communication which includes a dedicated intranet page for all active teams, an extranet to reach employees on furlough, multi-lingual films to demonstrate general Covid precautions, safety and security alerts, posters and pocket guides. These are all backed up with new return to work protocols.


Step 2 ensures all station and offices Apply social distancing. We have issued checklists for managers and hi-visibility clothing branded with social distancing reminders and checks. We are using our own inspection app to complete workplace inspections daily and track the results globally.


Step 3 sees the roll out of New operational processes covering online guidance for managers, contingency plans and risk assessments and a global employee return to work training package.


Step 4 makes sure we have an adequate PPE supply to keep our teams safe and follows applicable national regulations. It introduces regular inventory checks to ensure a strong, tested supply chain.


Step 5 sets out global standards for Cleaning & disinfecting working environments. This includes frequent cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces, regular deep cleaning programmes and twice weekly workplace inspections and real-time dashboards.


This five step plan covers all our global business, including our cargo sites, and helps manage our business safely and most importantly, protect our employees as much as possible.

From a cargo perspective, we have seen fluctuating volumes largely based around charter activity and PPE requirements.  We have been fully engaged with all our customers over the past few months, confirming revised opening hours and station capabilities as they change according to national lockdown regulations. 

Our expectation is for a slight upturn in volumes in the second half of this year as airlines start to increase their schedules once more.  We know it will take some time for cargo volumes to return to pre Covid-19 levels so we are making adjustments to our various operating models across our global network. 

We have had some recent success in our commercial activity and look forward to welcoming some new customers in key cargo locations in the coming months. Through Air Menzies International (AMI) we have also been working hard to adapt to the changing market and have provided some creative solutions for our customers, most notably in chartering passenger aircraft for cargo loads in several markets.

We are continuing this approach of adapting and responding quickly with new ways of working as we look to the future.  We’re ready and raring to go with a desire to provide flexible and innovative support for our customers as we slowly emerge from the most challenging period our industry has ever faced.”