A few months ago we reported on how airlines were capitalising on passenger-cargo operations as a way of raising cash in these difficult times.

Now we see at least three airlines preparing to fly billions of Covid-19 vaccines around the world.

First off the block was Virgin Atlantic. Until now it has specialised in bringing urgent PPE, medical equipment and so on from Shanghai to the UK.

It claims to have carrier “four million tonnes” on this route to date, and said that its new ‘Pharma Secure’ division offers:

• 24/7 Support Team
• Automated status updates
• Proactive service recovery and periodical integrity checks
• Security escorts (on request)
• Dedicated email for bookings, quotes and support
• Highest priority access to capacity
• Priority unloading at LHR
• Money back guarantee
• GDP training staff worldwide
• Access to temperature-controlled facilities for both COL and CRT

Air France is also getting ready, with the carrier tweeting that “Our main challenge is to control the cold channel. Some vaccines must be transported at -20 degrees C or even -80 degrees C  which involves special packaging.”

More details can be found on the twitter thread and via the TV interview (in French) which it contains.

And this week Business Traveller India reported on Turkish Airlines’ cargo division transporting Covid vaccines from China to Brazil via Istanbul.

Turkish Cargo carries Covid-19 vaccines from China to Brazil

Note that this is a vaccine manufactured in China and one wonders if it would be approved for use in areas of the world such as Europe and North America.

Meanwhile Emirates is using selected A380 aircraft as “mini freighters”, and said that it has also set up “the world’s largest EU GDP compliant airside hub in Dubai dedicated for the Covid-19 vaccine”, allowing it to store, repack, re-ice and redistribute potential vaccines as they come to market.

Emirates using A380 aircraft as “mini freighters”

Earlier this year The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that delivering Covid-19 vaccines will be “mission of the century” for global air cargo industry.

Clearly this is a developing story. More airlines will be entering the pharma transportation market in the weeks and months ahead.

virginatlantic.com, airfrance.co.uk, turkishairlines.com