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   Vol. 19 No. 22
Monday March 16, 2020
Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes

As COVID-19 has shut down Italy talking of what is happening on the ground in Italian logistics right now opens the door for a conversation with some hardworking freight forwarders.
     Despite the shut down everywhere else, the logistics industry is open for business in Italy as you read this update.
     Marco Sorgetti spoke with two close Italian friends, who are very active in the business of logistics—Francesco Parisi and Antonella Straulino. Francesco is former FIATA President and owner of one of the oldest active freight forwarding and logistics companies in Europe, founded in 1807.
     FlyingTypers published Marco’s profiles on both Francesco and Antonella in these pages.

     Francesco and I discussed the options left to Italian logistics amid the coronavirus shock, and he told me that borrowing former President Bush’s comment to explain what is happening in Italy is apt:
     “The restrictions stop people, not goods,” he said.

Journey to Immense Change

Francesco Parisi      “We are in the middle of the third week after discovery of the first case of the coronavirus infection and we are experiencing what we never thought could happen,” Francesco said.
     “Until last week, there was a great underestimation about the danger,” he continued.
     “But everything changed on Sunday (March 8) with the first strict regulation imposedby our government, impeding the movement of people in parts of the Northern Italian territory, followed immediately on Monday with the extension of the same restrictions to the entire national territory (60 million residents) and now, by a further restriction closing all retail shops that are not considered vital (except foodstuff, pharmaceuticals, essential services), all hotels, restaurant, coffee shops, pubs, etc. all must strictly shut shop as of today, [March 12th] until March 25th.”

New Image Not Seen Before

     Francesco says, “The image of our cities has suddenly changed, everywhere in sight looks like early Sunday morning has occupied the whole day.

Non-Stop Transport & Logistics

     “Considering the structure of our economy (widespread SME’s, principally export oriented) and the possible dramatic damage that could result from a full closure of factories for a few weeks, our government has decided to allow manufacturing and services to continue operations, however under strict health rules.
    “Also Transport and Logistics is fully operational (carriers – road and rail – as well as infrastructure, ports, airports, warehousing),” Francesco assures.
     “Our Company’s offices have staff on site reduced by 50%, with 25% working from home (what Italians have called ‘smart working’) and the rest on holiday.      “Volumes are at a steady pace compared to previous weeks.

We Shall Fight & Work It Out

     “The experience from these first four ‘curfew’ days is remarkable: shippers and carriers are very cooperative, ‘smart working’ staff is extremely productive, overseas agents are very helpful . . . the only real business concern now is lack of capacity on container vessels for export cargo for the next two months (due to the previous month’s blank sailings) as well as lack of airfreight capacity due to passenger flight cancellations.
     “If we can circumvent these problems, we shall fight and live to work it out,” Francesco Parisi declared.


Antonella Straulino
Antonella & Milan Logistics

     I also managed to get Antonella Straulino, who is the international voice (amongst her many other functions) of Fedespedi, the Italian freight forwarders’ federation.
     Antonella, truly is a community-driven and, for that matter, through her years of great work at FIATA, a heart and soul force for good. She lives in Milan where Fedespedi’s registered office is located.
     I asked her to share her feelings about the situation in light of her daily interactions with the business.
     “This morning the news is we shall have a field hospital mounted in the former “Fiera di Milano” area in the center of Milan, which will be able to handle 600 new intensive care units and this will be ready in about a week,” she said.
     “I am pleased to see that Milan is showing resilience and determination.
     “Logistics will certainly play its part to realize this project authorized by Rome.
     “The additional care available will relieve the strain in our hospitals, which have been undergoing unprecedented pressure in these times.

Health Care System Is Working

     “I have to say that our National Health System is showing what can be done by the relatively modest investment that the Italian state makes in public health.      “Having had to test our NHS’s effectiveness for personal reasons in the past, I hope that our colleagues around the world will not have to suffer the dire straits we are in.
     “Considering that our NHS is one of the best in the world and has several decades’ of performance, I am appalled at what could happen if other countries are affected in the same proportion and said countries may now have to rely on comparable infrastructure.

Every Hand Helps

     “For my part I am trying to assist companies, local associations and entrepreneurs, from my home desk, providing communications, documents and help in any way I (humbly) can.

Communication Is Key

     “Open dialogue and communication are key: with customers, unions, other associations, public and private bodies.
     “In the end we are all in the same boat and we need to all row in the same direction,” Antonella said.

Freight Fowarding On The Job

     “I have to commend our Fedespedi members, really being on the front-line, trying to keep the flow of goods moving, notwithstanding bans from other countries, lack of trucks and drivers, understandable fears and sometimes misleading messages.
     “Freight forwarding and logistics (unlike my job) cannot be performed by merely staying at home; our companies are trying to cope with the situation, with staff also partially working from home.

Reaching Out Helping Others

     “Our schools and universities are showing the way, as many of them have converted themselves into ‘virtual knowledge’ centers.
     “I am also trying to assist in this area and I have to say that the experience gained in the many years I spent working in FIATA’s Advisory Body Vocational Training certainly came in handy at this time.

No Sitting Still In Crises

     “I heard this morning that we are celebrating the first ‘online degrees’ at LUISS University and other universities.
     “There will be no ‘spumante’ pouring into the glasses, but we shall have more doctors, which is better than sitting idle and doing nothing,” Anto declared.
     “This shows,” Antonella insists, “that the country does not wish to stop and that ‘andrà tutto bene’ [all will end up well]!”

Singing around Italy
  Marco shared this touching video that begins from the window of an apartment in Napoli.
  Take five minutes and listen to the voices of hope in song drifting up from open hearts as Italians share and sing for a moment in the COVID-19 crises.
  Not since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gathered and literally sang the Russians out of the Baltics in 1991 has there been a scene as moving.
  Singing may not cure the virus, but shoulders against the struggle worldwide, the music sure beats a punch in the nose.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
FT030520Vol. 19 No. 19
United Takes COVID-19 To Heart
Airports In The Viral Landscape
Chuckles for March 5, 2020
U.S. Trucker Of The Year

FT030920Vol. 19. No. 20
Sense & Sensibility As COVID-19 Grips Aviation
China Upto Speed Could Take Months
Chuckles for March 9, 2020
We Can Do It

Vol. 19 No. 21
Trump Bans European Flights
Latin American Cargo Surges
Pandemic No Italian Panic
Cargo Events Feel Force Of Pandemic

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