American donates cargo vaccine flights to Guatemala
American Airlines moved 1.5 million coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine doses from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft on July 8. In close consultation with the White House COVID-19 task force, American’s cargo team worked with pharmaceutical partners and trucking logistics specialists to move the shipment of vaccinations from a distribution site in Kentucky to American’s cargo terminal at ORD. The shipments were loaded onto the 777-200 and flew on a special donated cargo-only nonstop flight to GUA. American moved its first shipment of vaccines in December 2020.
LATAM transports more than 50 million vaccine doses
The LATAM Group reached 50 million vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, distributed free of charge in South America within the framework of its “Solidarity Plane” program. LATAM has distributed more than 50 million doses in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, which is equivalent to 40% of the doses administered in the region and 2% of the doses worldwide.
Caribbean Airlines delivers Sinopharm Vaccines to Trinidad, Tobago
Caribbean Airlines Cargo transported 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago on May 18. This shipment is the largest number of COVID-19 vaccines brought to the country to date. The temperature-sensitive shipment was moved from Beijing to Trinidad connecting in Toronto through the airline’s cargo charter service. Caribbean Airlines collaborated with Hainan Airlines, which carried the shipment to Toronto where it was transferred to the Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft. This cargo charter service comes one year after the carrier operated its inaugural cargo charter, transporting COVID-19 relief supplies. Photo shows Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, The Honorable Terrence Deyalsingh (middle) takes possession of the Sinopharm vaccines alongside Caribbean Airlines.
LATAM transports nearly 24 million free vaccines
LATAM Airlines Group has transported over 23.7 million vaccines against COVID-19 within South America, through more than 300 flights in the domestic markets of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru since December 2020. The Latin American carrier said it will continue to transport vaccines at no cost within the countries where it operates throughout 2021 through its Solidarity Plane program. More than 50 towns have benefited from the doses, including those located in difficult access points including Easter Island in Chile, Galapagos in Ecuador, Iquitos in Peru. In Brazil, doses have been moved to all states, as a result of the country’s current health crisis.
Ethiopian Airlines brings 3.5 million doses to Brazil
Ethiopian Airlines has transported 3.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Shanghai to São Paulo, Brazil, via Addis Ababa. The vaccine arrived in Brazil on April 15. So far, Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services has transported over 20 million vaccines to more than 20 countries.
Caribbean Airlines carries vaccines from Miami
Caribbean Airlines Cargo carried COVID-19 vaccines from Miami to Barbados and Dominica. The vaccines were transported to Barbados through the carrier’s freighter service and the shipment destined for Dominica, was then moved to the island on a Caribbean Airlines Cargo charter flight, a service offered by the airline to facilitate the shipment of critical supplies throughout the region in the light of the pandemic.
Ethiopian transports more than 1 million vaccines in single flight
Ethiopian Airlines transported 1,056,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in a single flight on March 31. The airline used six Envirotainers to carry the vaccines from Beijing to Harare via Addis Ababa and arrived in Harare. Ethiopian has also transported 300,000 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to Ethiopia. The vaccine delivery flight arrived March 30 at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
SkyTeam Cargo launches V EXCELLENCE program
SkyTeam Cargo has launched V EXCELLENCE, a dedicated program for shipping COVID-19 vaccines. SkyTeam Cargo members are deploying vaccines to where they are needed: Aeroflot has carried millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to various continents. The Russian flagship carrier has transported about 50 tons of COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with strict priority rules and conditions. Aerolineas Argentinas Cargo has transported 3,374,000 doses of Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines from Russia and China to Argentina and other Latin American countries. For the first time in 86 years, Aeromexico Cargo chartered a flight to Russia and collected a shipment of vaccines destined for Mexico. This flight is in addition to other shipments from Argentina transporting active ingredients to manufacture around 12 million doses. Air France-KLM Cargo transported millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to various continents. Alitalia Cargo is active in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines working closely with freight forwarders and leading pharmaceutical companies Delta Cargo has safely delivered almost half a million vaccines and clinical trial shipments within the US and across the globe via its Vaccine Watch Tower. Korean Air is transporting COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine ingredients to Asia and Europe and is also one of several SkyTeam Cargo members working with UNICEF for the global transport of the COVID-19 vaccine. Saudia Cargo to date has transported more than 10 tons of both Pfizer & Astra Zeneca vaccines into Saudi Arabia and is diligently working to exponentially enhance this number in the coming weeks. Xiamen Airlines operated a special flight carrying 150,000 doses of Chinese-made vaccines from Beijing to Bishkek.
Ethiopian Airlines delivers vaccines to Africa
Ethiopian Airlines operated COVID-19 vaccine delivery flights from Mumbai to Addis Ababa March 6 and from Beijing to Brazzaville on March 10.
Qatar Airways Cargo delivers 10 million vaccines
Qatar Airways Cargo
Qatar Airways Cargo in March surpassed a milestone with 10 million COVID-19 vaccines transported, including COVID-19 vaccines for UNICEF as part of the five-year MOU to support UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative by prioritizing the transport of vaccines, medicines, medical devices and critical supplies. Since December 2020, Qatar Airways Cargo has transported COVID-19 vaccines to 20 countries including Algeria, Cambodia, Denmark, Pakistan Rwanda, South Africa and the Netherlands.
Chicago’s DuPage Airport partners to provide vaccinations
The DuPage Airport Authority (DAA) converted its transient hangar into a COVID‐19 vaccination site March 3, working in partnership with the City of West Chicago to distribute more than 2,000 doses of the vaccine. The city partnered with food and drug retailer Albertsons to obtain the doses of the vaccine, then coordinated with the DAA to prepare the facility for the vaccine event. The DAA team cleared out and relocated several aircraft from the 32,000 sq. ft. hangar to allow for the setup of 10 vaccination stations. A steady stream of recipients flowed in and out of the hangar for their first dose of the vaccine. Everyone who received a first dose of the vaccine there will return to DuPage Airport in three weeks for their second dose.
ANA, DHL partner on Pfizer vaccine transport
All Nippon Airways (ANA), DHL Global Forwarding Japan and Pfizer Inc., has distributed COVID-19 vaccines under a joint partnership for the international transportation of vaccines between Belgium and Japan.
UNICEF, cargo carriers partner to prioritize vaccine delivery
Charity UNICEF launched an initiative with 16 airlines—called the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative—to ensure consignments of COVID-19 vaccine and other humanitarian supplies reach the areas where they are most needed. The airlines—AirBridgeCargo, Air France/KLM, Astral Aviation, Brussels Airlines, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, Emirates SkyCargo, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, IAG Cargo, Korean Air, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines—have committed to prioritizing delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, related medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic.
UIA uses 737s, 767s for vaccine transport
Ukraine International Airlines
Ukraine International Airlines has prepared Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft to transport the vaccines as cargo. Since the implementation of quarantine measures, UIA has transported 870 tons of medical cargo. UIA said it “always takes a proactive position and expresses its readiness to transport the vaccines both to Ukraine and around the world.”
Dubai alliance brings vaccine to poorer nations
The Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance—comprising Emirates Airline, Dubai Airports, port and logistics operator DP World, and the emirate’s International Humanitarian City—has joined together to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly to poorer countries. The alliance is being launched in support of the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, which aims to equitably distribute two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. A larger group of stakeholders—including pharmaceutical manufacturers, forwarders, government agencies and other groups—are working with the alliance to help transport the vaccines.
The parent group of British Airways and Iberia (pictured) is planning largescale investments in sustainable aviation fuel.
India’s SpiceJet transports first batch of Covishield vaccine
SpiceJet via Twitter
India’s LCC SpiceJet delivered a 224 kg. consignment of the Covishield vaccine from Mumbai to Rajkot on Jan. 12.
Virgin Atlantic supports NHS in vaccine rollout effort
Virgin Atlantic teams, spanning cabin crew, pilots, ground and office-based teams, are set to work with the NHS over the coming months to assist with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, supporting the national effort to save lives. The airline is working with the NHS and St John’s Ambulance service to secure voluntary and paid opportunities for its people at NHS mass vaccination centers to support with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the pandemic impacted, many Virgin Atlantic employees, including those with medical training have been furloughed on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, offering their time and skills to support the NHS and our communities in the fight against COVID-19.
Dubai Airports creates vaccine distribution corridor
Dubai Airports, operator of Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC), and GMR Hyderabad (GMR-HYD) have joined forces to create a COVID-19 vaccine distribution corridor. Home to 88 global airlines including Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates, and 12 international and 400 local and regional freight forwarders, Dubai Airports with its interlinked cargo facilities at DXB and DWC and in partnership with dnata cargo, the airport service provider in Dubai, the HYD-DXB vaccine corridor will provide capacity to seamlessly handle up to 300 tonnes of vaccines per day.
UPS delivers Pfizer, Moderna vaccines in US and EU
United Parcel Service (UPS) is delivering shipments of both of the approved coronavirus vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to destinations in the US and European Union. The company is also providing logistics support for eight of the 10 leading vaccines in clinical trials today.
Air France-KLM Martinair Cargo flights carry millions of doses
Air France-KLM Martinair Caro is transporting pharmaceutical products in the belly of passenger aircraft (Air France fleet: 99 long-haul aircraft/AFKL: 175) or in its full-freighter aircraft (AF: 2/AFKL: 6). An Air France all-cargo aircraft can carry more than 1 million doses per flight and a long-haul passenger aircraft can carry more than 400,000 doses in its holds.
FedEx Express delivers vaccines to US, Canada
The FedEx Express network began actively delivering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments across the US in December 2020, as soon as approval was granted. The company began vaccine shipments throughout Canada later in the month and prepared to deliver vaccines to other countries.
Swiss WorldCargo’s first vaccine shipments went to São Paulo, Zurich
Swiss WorldCargo carried over 14 tons of finished COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 18 to São Paulo. Previously, the shipment had been transported from Beijing to Zurich. The special cargo was carried in 10 Envirotainer RAP-e2 containers, which kept the temperature consistently cooled within a range of 2-8 degrees Celsius. Together with forwarding partner PGL Brazil, Swiss WorldCargo carried out the shipment on behalf of the Brazilian Butantan institute. The total shipment carried close to 2 million doses of finished COVID-19 vaccines.
American transports first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine
On the night of Dec. 13, the American Airlines Cargo team carried its first shipment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. In close collaboration with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, the airline received the shipment by truck at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and loaded the shipment onto a Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying to Miami International Airport (MIA). The vaccine shipment arrived at its final destination in a U.S. territory in the Caribbean later that day. American began conducting trial flights in November to simulate the conditions required to transport the COVID-19 vaccine, stress testing the thermal packaging and operational handling process to ensure it remains stable in transit.
Delta delivers COVID-19 vaccines to Atlanta, San Francisco
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines has delivered COVID-19 vaccine shipments—most recently from Detroit to Atlanta and San Francisco—following successful shipments of test vaccines earlier this year. The entire journey monitored in Delta’s unique Vaccine Watch Tower that enables full end-to-end visibility for all vaccine shipments. With 24/7 centralized monitoring and customer reporting, the Tower works closely with Flight Operations to ensure the safe and secure transportation of the vaccines at the required temperature. With large warehouses and cooler facilities in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Seattle, as well as a network of 49 certified Pharma airports across the globe, Delta said it has the necessary infrastructure in place to support COVID-19 vaccine shipments.
United flies first vaccines to US
United Airlines is the first commercial airline to fly the first FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S., thanks to a coordinated effort between cargo, safety, technical operations, flight operations and several other teams at United. On behalf of Pfizer, United operated five cargo-only flights in early December delivering COVID-19 vaccines from Brussels to Chicago.
Korean Air carries vaccine component to Europe
Korean Air transported what it said was an “important COVID-19 vaccine component” to a vaccine production plant in Europe on Dec. 8, 2020. The airline said “temperatures were maintained below -60 degrees Celsius throughout the transportation process” aboard Korean Air flight 925 to Amsterdam.
Delta proves it can safely ship vaccine globally
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines said it has proven capabilities for transporting COVID-19 vaccines after successful shipments earlier this year. With large warehouses and cooler facilities in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Seattle, and a network of 49 certified Pharma airports across the globe, Delta said it has capabilities in place to support vaccine shipments at home and around the world. “In addition to robust domestic shipment capabilities to support rapid distribution with the U.S., Delta has a broad and nimble global distribution function in coordination with Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo and Virgin Atlantic Cargo that enables end-to-end compliance and assurance for customers across our broad network,” Delta said in a statement.
LATAM’s Solidarity Plane offers free domestic vaccine transport
LATAM Airlines Group will make COVID-19 vaccine transport available to countries where it has domestic operations (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) through its Solidarity Plane program. Since March 2020, the program has provided free transport for more than 900 healthcare professionals, 400 people with urgent need of medical assistance and more than 700 organs and tissues for transplants.
Alaska Air Cargo, HAECO partner for in-seat cargo storage
Alaska Air Cargo is introducing a new in-seat package stowage system to allow full use of an Alaska Airlines passenger aircraft in a cargo-only configuration. As the North American launch customer for HAECO’s design, the interior package stowage containers allow Alaska Air Cargo to fill the main cabin passenger seats with an additional 13,500 pounds of cargo on top of what a passenger-only cargo flight can carry. This innovative, FAA-approved- design allows cargo personnel to use all available space on the main deck for essential goods like mail, medical equipment, e-commerce packages and other freight. In addition to Air Cargo's dedicated three freighters, one Boeing 737-900 passenger aircraft is being utilized as a cargo-only aircraft. Each flight will carry up to 30,000 pounds, which includes belly capacity.
Ethiopian Airlines partners with Cainaio to launch cold air vaccine transport
Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arms of Alibaba Group Holdings, is partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to launch a special cold chain air freight for the transportation of temperature-controlled medicines from Shenzhen Airport, China’s first medical cross-border cold chain facility. Temperature-controlled medicines will be distributed twice a week from Shenzhen to Africa, and to the rest of the world via Dubai and Addis Ababa. This is China's first cross-border medical cold chain route to be operated regularly and is certified to transport temperature-controlled medicines including COVID-19 vaccines.
Virgin Atlantic ready to handle vaccine transport
Virgin Atlantic’s cargo operation has today unveiled new capabilities in readiness to handle the logistical complexities of distributing COVID-19 vaccines on its global network. To ensure the safety and security of this valuable cargo, the airline has introduced a new Pharma Secure service for all urgent, valuable and vulnerable pharmaceutical and life sciences shipments. Working with their customers and responding to their specific requirements, the new product will include a 24/7 support team, automatic live status updates, proactive service recovery and periodical integrity checks, temperature-controlled facilities and a dedicated booking team.
Air France-KLM: ‘We are ready’ to distribute vaccines
Air France-KLM says it is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. Together with Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and with Aéroport de Paris (already two leading European Pharma hubs), the company said it has established two taskforces to “fully prepare both airports communities for upcoming vaccine transport operations.”
Airlines and airports are stepping up to the plate to distribute the vaccine for COVID-19. The air cargo industry is playing a vital role in distributing doses of the vaccine around the world. IATA DG and CEO Alexandre de Juniac called the delivery of billions of doses of a vaccine that must be transported and stored in a deep-frozen state to the entire world efficiently a “hugely complex logistical challenge across the supply chain.” Here are some airlines and airports that have accepted the challenge.
Linda Blachly is Senior Associate Editor for Air Transport World and Aviation Week. She joined the company in July 2010 and is responsible for producing features for Air Transport World’s monthly magazine and engaging content for the aviationweek.com. She is based in the Washington DC office.