Air France KLM continues preparation for vaccine launch

By Damian Brett

Air France KLM Martinair (AFKLP) has helped establish two more task forces and is developing new cool facilities as it prepares for the launch of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The airline group said that along with Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; and with Aéroport de Paris it has established two task forces to fully prepare both airports communities for upcoming vaccine transport operations, while it has also established its own team within the airline to help prepare.

It is also expanding its pharma facilities at the two airports.

GertJan Roelands, senior vice president of sales and distribution at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, said: “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.

“This taskforce represents all the relevant Air France KLM Martinair Cargo departments. Our teams have been working on an extensive action plan.

“For example, at our Schiphol Pharma Hub, we opened up a 1,118 m cu climate-controlled storage facility a few months ago and we are building an additional 2,061 m cu additional 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.”

Adriaan den Heijer, executive vice president Air France KLM Cargo, added: “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.”

The update comes as developers Pfizer and BioNTech announced that trials had shown that their vaccine could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19.

The two firms will now apply for emergency approval to start using the vaccine before the end of November.

The developers hope to be able to supply 50m doses by the end of this year and around 1.3bn by the end of 2021. Each person will need to two doses.

Importantly, the vaccine will need to be stored and transported at minus 80 degrees Celsius, which immediately limits the number of facilities that will be able to handle the vaccine.

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