More domestic airlines including China Southern, Hainan Airlines transport vaccines
Published: Mar 04, 2021 09:48 PM
China Southern Airlines file photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

More Chinese airlines are getting involved in vaccine transport, as the global aviation sector races to deliver injections around the world. 

China Southern Airlines said on Thursday that it has started COVID-19 vaccine shipments. 

As a pharmaceutical cold-chain product, vaccine shipments place higher requirements on air carriers. China Southern Airlines said that it is the first enterprise in the Chinese mainland to obtain the dual certification of IATA CEIV Pharma for airlines and ground handling.

The certification represents the highest standard of international temperature-controlled medicine air transportation, which is recognized by COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and global pharmaceutical logistics suppliers, according to the airline.

Hainan Airlines said in a release sent to the Global Times that it completed its maiden flight for COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, carrying a batch of vaccines donated by the Chinese government to Georgetown, capital of Guyana. 

The carrier said that it made detailed transportation plans and arrangements, and it closely monitored the entire process including cargo collection, transportation, warehousing, assembly, loading and unloading.

In November 2020, the first vaccine charter flight operated by China Southern Air Logistics took off from Beijing heading for Istanbul. It was the first time for the carrier to work with Sinovac Biotech for overseas vaccine transport, and the largest overseas consignment for the carrier with active temperature-controlled container leasing service provider Envirotainer for the service.

Chinese airports also have made a big contribution to vaccine transport. The CAAC North China Regional Administration has continuously guaranteed smooth procedures for the airlines. The latest example was on Monday, when the department gave flight priority to planes carrying vaccines. 

Carriers providing vaccine shipping must guarantee reliable controlled-temperature services. All vaccines must be shipped at ambient temperatures of + 2C to 8C or under the conditions specified by the manufacturers and indicated on the shipping device label, according to a "guide for air transportation of coronavirus vaccine shipments" issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The Ministry of Transport said last week that China has more than 10,000 refrigerated vehicles and nearly 300,000 refrigerated containers that can be used for shipping vaccines.

According to a white paper jointly released by DHL and McKinsey last year, it is estimated that the global demand for COVID-19 vaccines will exceed 10 billion doses, which will require about 200,000 pallets, 15 million cooling tanks, and 15,000 full-load Boeing 747 freighters.