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Cathay Pacific Develops Solution for Worldwide Vaccine Distribution

by Chantal Welch

Cathay Pacific has developed a new quality-assured solution that ensures a fast and effective import and transhipment of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 © Flickr Commons

Aviation Supporting the World against COVID-19

The aviation industry is suffering the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Many airlines are fighting for survival and have had little or no financial support. Yet, it’s the aviation sector that has played a key part in helping the world by transporting vital pandemic supplies.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has many years of experience transporting pharmaceutical shipments. It’s one of the world’s biggest international air cargo carriers, operating a freighter fleet to 46 destinations. Hong Kong International Airport is Cathay Pacific’s hub and the world’s leading and busiest cargo airport, which makes it a key player throughout the pandemic. Its cargo terminal was designed to provide capacity for 2.6 million tonnes of cargo and is one of the biggest and most sophisticated terminals in the world.

Cathay Pacific Cargo flight © Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Cargo is using its fleet of 14 Boeing 747-8F freighters and six 747-400ERFs (Extended Range Freighter) to operate a full freighter schedule. Due to demand, it’s also operating thousands of cargo-only passenger flights. Some with cargo loaded in the passenger cabins to add extra air freight capacity.

Cathay Pacific Cargo Director Tom Owen said:

“With our 20 dedicated freighters and cargo bellies of passenger aircraft supporting our extensive freighter network, we stand ready to assist with what will be the biggest humanitarian response to a situation involving civil aviation that anyone has ever seen.”

Cathay_Pacific_Boeing_777-300ER; at HKG © Aero Icarus

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER at HKG © Aero Icarus

Aviation Innovation providing COVID-19 Solutions

As a key part of its vaccine solution, Cathay Pacific Cargo is rolling out Ultra Track. Ultra Track is a next-generation track-and-trace system that monitors information including temperature, GPS location, and humidity, using low-energy Bluetooth readers. It gives shippers and forwarders near real-time visibility and ensures vaccines will remain within their transportation temperature ranges.

Cathay Pacific’s Cargo Owen said:

“Ultra Track will allow forwarders to monitor the condition of their vaccine shipments in near real-time. It will be progressively rolled out through the first quarter of this year, and we will be offering the service free of charge for any COVID-19 vaccine shipments.”

COVID-19 vaccine © Hakan Nural via Unsplash

IATA CEIV Pharma Accreditation

Cathay Pacific’s approach follows on from an airport-wide recertification of IATA’s CEIV Pharma accreditation. An internationally recognised quality-assurance scheme for pharmaceutical shipments. Cathay Pacific Cargo, the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal, and ground-handling subsidiary Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS) have all been re-certified. This ensures quality assurance at every stage of the import and transshipment journey.

The Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is expanding to offer more temperature-controlled capacity. It’s currently able to temporarily hold and transit 6.6 million doses of vaccine a day.

Cathay Pacific Cargo’s Owen said:

“We have just expanded so that it can handle more than seven million doses, and there will be more cold storage coming online soon. This new cold room storage will be able to handle a further 1.6 million doses. With the vaccine being so valuable and in such limited supply, it’s critical that we get it right at every stage of the journey. We are confident about meeting the challenge, and we stand ready to play our part.”

What are your thoughts on the aviation industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Let us know in the comments below

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