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Carrying the Olympic light

Recently, SWISS and Swiss WorldCargo, in close cooperation, transported the symbolic flame on a flight from Athens to Geneva. The flame will be used within Lausanne’s 2020 Youth Winter Olympics, which will begin next January. So the question on everyone’s mind….how does one plan for such a transport, and how was Swiss WorldCargo involved?

Recently, SWISS and Swiss WorldCargo, in close cooperation, transported the symbolic flame on a flight from Athens to Geneva. The flame will be used within Lausanne’s 2020 Youth Winter Olympics, which will begin next January. So the question on everyone’s mind….how does one plan for such a transport, and how was Swiss WorldCargo involved?

The project began in July 2019, after a request was shared with Partnerships & Events Suisse Romande, inquiring about its feasibility. After it was officially “accepted,” the shipment then needed to be registered as “symbolic flames.” These, of course, carry their own sets of rules and regulations, and are recognised as “Dangerous Goods,” according to IATA regulations.

Different teams enthusiastically agreed to take part in the shipment of the flame. Swiss WorldCargo Greece, led by Dimitris Tzilos, naturally offered support in carrying out the shipment. In Swiss WorldCargo’s Zurich office, our DG experts team led the Dangerous Goods effort to ensure that everything worked out smoothly.

The team from the Zurich head office was in close communication throughout the summer with the Greek Civil Aviation Authority (GR-CAA) and FOCA, and together ensured that the flame could travel onboard. This, of course, required myriad email exchanges, phone calls and file sharing, to clarify what the specific protocol was that would enable the flame to be carried onboard.

The flame boarded on LX1823/September 18. It was “packed” in a special lantern according to Dangerous Goods Regulations to ensure its safe arrival. At the same time, a second flame was also carried in the cabin. This is tradition, as it can be used as a back-up in case of accidental extinguishing.

The two flames were placed on a special frame, secured in the middle seat, between the official escort and a SWISS cabin crew member dedicated to ensuring proper actions in case of incident. This was a great solution, as “live” flames are of course not allowed and a sensitive topic within the cargo hold.

The Olympic flame arrives safely at Geneva airport.

This effort was a great example of collaboration among different Swiss WorldCargo and SWISS teams. The flame arrived safely in Geneva where welcomed by a cheerful ceremony. From there, it is now being sent onwards to Lausanne where it will be proudly on display in the official opening for the Youth Olympics Games 2020.