UNICEF Launches Worldwide Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative with Leading Airlines

by Chantal Welch
Aircraft on runway

UNICEF announced today that it is launching the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative. This landmark initiative has been formed with over 10 leading airlines committed to prioritising the secure delivery of Covid vaccines and life-saving medical supplies worldwide.

UNICEF billboard

UNICEF billboard © Etienne Godiard via Unsplash

Aviation as a Force for Good

Aviation is a force for good on a global scale. Besides its significant contribution to global GDP and employment, it has championed its commitment to environmental work, from introducing the historic ICAO Carbon agreement to manage aviation’s carbon footprint to using sustainable fuel. Aviation continues to innovate with new ideas and technology, with a strong focus on creating value for passengers.

During the pandemic, the aviation industry has faced many challenges, but it has excelled by staying agile and adapting to the circumstances. Airlines have demonstrated corporate social responsibility by providing their services to help people and have played a key part throughout the pandemic.

Medical supplies at airport

Health care and airport officials unloading medical equipment © Construction Business News

The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative

The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative has been established to prioritize the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices, and critical supplies worldwide. The initiative supports the COVAX Facility, a global solution to the Covid-19 pandemic that ensures participating countries have fair access to vaccines, regardless of their income level.

Under the COVAX facility, UNICEF manages the procurement and delivery of quality-assured Covid-19 vaccines for low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Furthermore, the initiative will act as a global logistics preparation mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises in the long-term.

Emirates Boeing 777-300

Emirates Boeing 777-300 © Emirates

Aviation’s Critical Role

To help UNICEF reach participating countries swiftly and securely, over 10 leading airlines have signed agreements with UNICEF to support the initiative. Airline participation is vital to ensure safe, timely, and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies and equal access to vaccines worldwide.

In addition to prioritizing these critical shipments, airlines will commit to taking measures such as temperature control and security while also adding freight capacity to routes where needed. The initiative will provide access to essential services for children and families. Furthermore, COVAX deliveries and frontline workers’ vaccination will help support health and social care systems, safely resuming these critical services.

Eleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division, said:

“Delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries, and the diversity of routes. We are grateful to these airlines for joining forces with the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Cathay_Pacific_Boeing_777-300ER; at HKG © Aero Icarus

Cathay Pacific Boeing777-300ER © Aero Icarus

Which Airlines are involved?

The airlines participating in the initiative are 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.

Some airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, have already begun developing distribution solutions in response to the pandemic.

Aircraft in flight

Flying into the Future © Etienne Jong

With vaccines reaching countries worldwide, aviation and the travel industry can push forward with their recovery and rebuild tourism for the future.

What are your thoughts on UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative? Let us know in the comments below.

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