On May 11, a Cathay Pacific Airways Cargo flight landed at the Portland International Airport (PDX), bringing 500,000 three-ply medical face masks into the region.
The masks were purchased by the State of Oregon, procured by local vendor Tricol Biomedical, and will be distributed to hospitals and health care providers in the region.
Governor Kate Brown said, "As we begin to reopen our communities, it is critical that those front line workers continue to have adequate and necessary supplies of protective equipment to keep them safe."
With high global demand for PPE, states like Oregon have run up against significant price obstacles and a lack of air cargo space. While the Oregon Department of Administrative Service (DAS) has worked hard to procure PPE through its vendors, they were having a difficult time getting these medical supplies from China into the region.
While passenger traffic is down 95% at PDX, air cargo continues to connect the region to critical goods, products and medical supplies. Air cargo is up 10% in April compared to the same period in 2019, and Cathay Pacific Cargo has maintained three flights a week between Portland and Hong Kong.
When the governor reached out to the Port of Portland for help, the Port reached out to air cargo partners Cathay Pacific. The air cargo operation began service to PDX at the end of 2016, partnering with the Port and both the State of Oregon and Nike to bring this new Boeing 747-8F direct freighter service to Asia. Cathay Pacific has made it a priority to assist Oregon in getting PPE to the state.
"Cathay Pacific has been a phenomenal partner to Oregon and the Port," said Keith Leavitt, chief commercial officer at the Port of Portland. "We are grateful for their work to continue to move products and goods to support businesses in Oregon and their expanded efforts to supply the region with critical medical supplies for hospitals and frontline workers."
The second set of 500,000 three-ply medical face masks is expected to arrive on another Cathay Pacific flight the week of May 17.
Empire, another Oregon PPE vendor, secured two Boeing 777 Delta cargo charter flights through Port's long-term partnership with Delta Air Lines. Those PPE supplies, isolation gowns, will arrive in June.
Over the last few months, the Port has served as a resource partner for Oregon DAS, working to connect vendors to air cargo options. The Port also engages industry partners to answer import-related questions to ensure supplies could get cleared through customs and met U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.