Air France KLM and Virgin Atlantic get ready to distribute Covid-19 vaccines

Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo have both announced they are ready to distribute potential Covid-19 vaccines.

The likelihood of needing these capabilities in the near-term increased with US company Moderna today (16 November) announcing early results of a new vaccine that showed nearly 95 per cent effectiveness – similar to the results announced by Pfizer last week.

Virgin Atlantic Cargo has introduced a new ‘Pharma Secure’ service for “all urgent, valuable and vulnerable” pharmaceutical and life sciences shipments.

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, the company said.

“This new service takes our already well-established pharmaceutical offering to the next level,” said Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s managing director Dominic Kennedy.

“We want to offer our customers peace of mind so they can book confidently with us, knowing their precious cargo will arrive safely, securely and on time. We look forward to playing a part in supporting the Covid-19 recovery by transporting crucial vaccines and pharmaceutical products to the UK and around the world on our global network, ensuring swift access to vaccines for the public as they become available.”

Taking action

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo introduced a Covid-19 vaccine taskforce four months ago, which has been working on an “extensive” action plan.

Senior vice president sales & distribution GertJan Roelands said: “This taskforce represents all the relevant Air France KLM Martinair Cargo departments. At our Schiphol Pharma Hub, we opened up a 1,118m3 climate controlled storage facility a few months ago and we are building an additional 2,061m3 cool room. At our Charles de Gaulle Pharma Hub, a new climate controlled storage area is about to be finished.

“We also introduced hybrid and advanced passive solutions that will be used to transport the vaccines, on top of existing full range of active containers. Along with many other initiatives, extra monitoring and intervention management have also been implemented.”

Air France-KLM Cargo’s executive vice president Adriaan den Heijer added: “We believe that cooperation and building communities around the upcoming global vaccines distribution are essential.

“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. We believe that strong cooperation between partners will be essential to successfully executing this logistical challenge.”

Airline Cargo Management’s Winter edition will feature an in-depth report on how the industry is preparing to distribute potential Covid-19 vaccines. The issue is due to be published on 2 December.

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