April 20, 2015: Skopje's "Alexander the Great Airport" in Macedonia will have additional skills needed to cope with any possible natural or man-made disaster following a three-day training course in disaster preparedness.
The training program, entitled "Get Airports Ready for Disaster" (GARD), is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL Group), in cooperation with TAV Macedonia, the company that manages the country's two airports, "Alexander the Great" in Skopje and "St Paul the Apostle" in Ohrid.
The GARD program aims to increase the capacity of airport personnel to deal with the logistical demands involved in post-disaster scenarios. The training will define and enhance local logistical capacities and knowledge, ensuring that bottlenecks at airports can be avoided and that large volumes of incoming relief goods can be handled with optimum efficiency.
The GARD concept has already been successfully implemented in almost 30 airports since 2005, including airports in Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Panama, El Salvador and Peru. The GARD trainers, DHL logistics experts who are providing their services free of charge, have been working in close cooperation with the United Nations.
"Our thoughts are always positive and naturally we do not want, or think that big disasters can happen. But, these kinds of scenarios are not included, no matter if it is a disaster caused by nature or caused by а human factor. Therefore, the GARD-training, which is organized by DPDHL Group and UNDP, is of a major significance for us and we appreciate very much their program, as well as the good cooperation, because the final goal is readiness of Skopje Airport for managing the disaster's effects," said Zoran Krstevski, General Manager of TAV Macedonia.
During the program, airport staff, together with staff from all relevant institutions that are part of the national crisis management system, including the Crisis Management Centre, the Protection and Rescue Directorate, the Civil Aviation Agency, the Ministry of Transport and Communication, the Ministry of Interior and the Red Cross, assessed the airports' surge capability and management structure from a disaster relief perspective and created a tailor-made and detailed action plan to handle surge traffic in case of a major disaster. It is expected that this plan will become part of national-level contingency plans.
"Building the country's resilience to natural and man-made disasters has always been a focus of activity for UNDP," said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. "Since 2007 we have implemented projects in this area worth USD 1.6 million, in partnership with central and local governments. This training is another step forward. Earthquakes and other natural cataclysms can't be avoided, but better preparedness and targeted investments can ensure they don't turn into disasters."