Air, Feature, Freight News

WFS gets ready for vaccine airlift

[ October 8, 2020   //   ]

Global airfreight handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has launched Project Coldstream in response to the anticipated transport of 16 billion doses of Covid vaccine, from late 2020 and into 2021/2.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry expects this to be the largest airlift of a single commodity ever, requiring the equivalent of 8,000 747 aircraft.

The transport of the vaccines is expected to start by the end of 2020, reach its peak in the second half of 2021 and continue into 2022. Health services have already ordered over 5 billion doses and, already, some 65,000 tonnes of vaccine are forecast to require air cargo transportation, plus ancillary hardware and PPE. 

Headed by taskforce leader, Mike Duffy (pictured), WFS’ executive vice president for innovation, and supported by senior operations, commercial and communications specialists across WFS’ global network, Project Coldstream is working closely with airlines, forwarders and logistics providers, government agencies and industry organisations such as Pharma.Aero and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) to clearly understand temperature and handling requirements.

The group will develop in-house solutions to the challenge, ensure the preparedness of WFS’ pharma handling capability and devise plans for additional capacity where needed, working closely with WFS’ airline customers.

WFS says that its investments in a network of temperature-controlled pharma handling facilities at strategic airport locations over the past two years means it is already a preferred partner  with many of the world’s biggest transporters of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

It currently operates 12 dedicated pharma facilities in London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Madrid, Miami, New York JFK, and a €10 million state-of-the-art Pharma Centre at Paris CDG. They are all either IATA CEIV or Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certified or compliant. They can manage shipments requiring +2°C to +8°C or +15°C to +25°C temperature environments, and -20°C in some stations. The offer real-time temperature monitoring and temperature excursion alarms, full track and trace, active temperature-controlled container handling and temperature-controlled trucks, trailers and dollies.

WFS will also ensure the preparedness of other key stations across its network spanning 175 airports in 20 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa.

WFS Group’s chief commercial officer, Barry Nassberg, commented: “Since the start of the COVID pandemic, WFS has been at the forefront of the global response, ensuring vital supplies of PPE and other medical supplies arriving at airports for hospitals and medical centres around the world have been handled quickly and securely to help save the lives of patients recovering from the virus, and support front-line medical personnel. We are extremely proud to be playing a key role in the international response to COVID and the next big stage of this will be the rapid and safe distribution of vaccines once they are approved. WFS’ significant investment in dedicated facilities and training for pharma shipments means we are uniquely placed to meet the requirements of governments, the pharma industry and our customers. They can be assured of our robust support.”

Mike Duffy said: “The world is waiting for a COVID vaccine to save lives and to support economic recovery. Over half of global vaccine doses are expected to be transported by air cargo because of its speed and reliability, dictated by global demand and the absence of local production facilities in some countries. We will use all the capabilities we have to deliver and support a consistent and reliable end-to-end handling solution.”

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