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Press Release: Montego Bay, Jamaica, May 13, 2021

Sangster International Airport authorities strengthened capabilities to act and respond to disasters during DHL’s Get Airports Ready for Disaster workshop

The Sangster International Airport in Jamaica strengthened disaster preparedness and response plans as well as relevant protocols and procedures by hosting and conducting Deutsche Post DHL Group’s Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) workshop this week. GARD is a public-private partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Deutsche Post DHL Group, the world’s leading mail and logistics services provider.

The GARD program helps prepare airports to handle the influx of incoming relief goods after a disaster. The sessions were held May 11 – 13, 2021, at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ). Participation included 17 representatives from MBJ, St, James Municipal Corporation, CGC Ground Services (Jamaica) Limited, AJAS Limited, PAC Kingston Airport Limited (PACKAL) and Jamaican government organizations, including: Defense Force (JDF-West), Constabulary Force (Supt. Ports Division), Customs Agency (JCA), Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ministry of Transport and Mining (MTM), and Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA).

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the workshop included virtual and in person participation as well as the use of DHL smart glasses provided by the DHL Innovation Center to aid in the workshop experience for those attending virtually. Workshop panelists included:

  • Shane Munroe, CEO, MBJ Airports Limited
  • Denise Antonio, Resident Representative, UNDP, Jamaica
  • Ava Whyte-Anderson, Programmes Analyst, UNDP, Jamaica
  • Rafael Echevarne, Director General, Airports Council International Latin America & Caribbean
  • Gavyn Symons, General Manager, DHL Express Jamaica
  • Frank Losada, GARD trainer, DHL Express Americas

“As a primary gateway to the island of Jamaica, Sangster International Airport is a critical national infrastructure for disaster preparedness and response. The GARD program enabled us to assess ourinfrastructure and strengthen our disaster relief transport and distribution expertise. We are pleased tocoordinate with DHL, ACI and UNDP on this effort,” said Shane Munroe, Chief Executive Officer, MBJAirports Limited.

Airports play a key role when a disaster strikes, enabling incoming goods to reach those in need. It is critical for stakeholders involved in disaster preparation to coordinate and work to strengthen airports’ capacity to ramp up and manage these large-scale operations in advance of a disaster. 

"ACI-LAC joins this important initiative between DHL and the United Nations (UNDP) with the objective of supporting the communities served by our airports in critical moments such as natural disasters. The GARD program is a clear example of this philosophy and goes beyond the traditional functions of airports and puts the airport as the hub for supporting the population it serves," says Dr. Rafael Echevarne, Director General, Airports Council International Latin America and Caribbean (ACI-LAC).

A disaster is by nature disruptive. Moreover, the need to ensure compliance with customs regulations, immigration, storage and movement of goods, and relief distribution can reduce the efficiency and speed of delivering goods and services to an affected population.

“UNDP is keen on building the capacity and resilience of key local stakeholders to ensure efficient and effective response to crises. Air transport is an essential pillar in supporting early response and recovery efforts immediately following a crisis. Through past disasters, we know the valuable lessons and importance of airport preparedness and developing strong private-public partnerships.,” said Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative for Jamaica.

DHL’s Disaster Response Teams (DRT) assist with airport logistics and warehousing of incoming aid during a disaster and provide proactive GARD training to prepare airport staff before a disaster strikes. DHL’s GARD program has trained 1,300 participants at 55 airports in 28 countries.

“DHL’s highly trained employee DRT volunteers and GARD trainers have provided logistics expertise and contributed to emergency response efforts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. We continue to build strong relationships with local emergency response teams, airport and military authorities, and non-profit organizations to support humanitarian logistics efforts in the Americas,” said Gilberto Castro, Senior Director Operations Colombia & Disaster Response Team Director for Americas, DHL. “GARD is an integral part of DHL’s GoHelp program that covers all company disaster preparedness and management activities in support of our company purpose to connect people and improve lives.”

DHL’s Disaster Management Program

Deutsche Post DHL Group has operated its GoHelp Disaster Management Program in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) since 2005. Through this partnership, the Group provides the UN and national disaster management agencies with pro bono access to its core logistics expertise, and the logistics skills of nearly 900 specially trained DRT employee volunteers worldwide who can deploy within 72 hours after a disaster. Since 2005, DRTs have completed 53 deployments for disasters in 20 countries. In the Americas, DHL has nearly 600-trained DRT employee volunteers ready to respond in 15 countries.

In addition, DHL’s DRTs support its GARD initiative that trains airport management in high-risk regions to be better prepared should disaster strike. DHL developed GARD in 2009 in cooperation with the UNDP, to help prepare airports to handle the surge of incoming relief goods after a disaster.

In 2020 in the Americas, DHL deployed DRTs to support Hurricane relief efforts in Honduras, Colombia and Panama, managing more than 935 tons of humanitarian relief last year. In addition, DHL’s DRT employees were deployed for a total of 56 days to support COVID-19 response efforts in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Panama where employees helped establish COVID-19 supply warehouses, assemble and distribute food rations for those sheltered in place; and handled more than 100 tons of relief items.

Read more about Deutsche Post DHL Group’s Disaster Management Programs and sustainability activities in the Sustainability ESG Report. Listen to the Made in Americas Podcast “Answering the Call When Disaster Strikes” on for more information on Americas DRT and GARD activities.