After months of preparations, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP) has announced it is ready to distribute Covid-19 vaccines when they become available.
Since the third week of March, AFKLMP has operated approximately 6000 cargo-only flights, transporting medicines, medical equipment, and other products. The cargo airline’s next logistical challenge will be the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Earlier this week, American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced, together with its German partner BioNTech, very successful results of its vaccine’s Phase III study.
In case this or a similar vaccine is approved for the global market, its distribution will be an unprecedented logistical challenge. Billions of vaccines are expected to require global distribution. Moreover, the vaccines need to be transported in conformity with strict international standards. Usually, a vaccine needs to be kept at a temperature between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. To make things even more difficult, the Pfizer vaccine will need to be kept and transported frozen at -70 °C.
“Air France KLM Martinair Cargo has years of experience with temperature-controlled transportation of pharmaceuticals,” says AF-KLM Cargo’s Senior Vice President Sales & Distribution GertJan Roelands. “The distribution of Covid-19 vaccines poses specific challenges in terms of volume, transportation requirements and security. In order to be fully prepared for this we started a Covid-19 Vaccine taskforce four months ago.”
“Our teams have been working on an extensive action plan. For example, at our Schiphol Pharma Hub, we opened up a 1,118 m3 Climate Controlled storage facility a few months ago and we are building an additional 2,061 m3 additional Cool Room. At our Charles de Gaulle Pharma Hub, a new Climate Controlled storage area is about to be finished.”
AF-KLM Cargo’s Executive Vice President Adriaan den Heijer said: “We’ve established partnerships with many of the parties in the logistical chain, including forwarders, trucking companies, container providers, airports, cargo/logistical associates, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare-related institutes and authorities.” Together with Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Aéroport de Paris, the cargo airline has established two taskforces which will fully prepare both airports for the upcoming vaccine transport operations.
Furthermore, the airline recently completed a succesfull trial shipment of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines, flying a Boeing 747 from China to Chile: