Singapore Airlines on Tuesday said it has taken several steps to prepare for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world.
Over the last few months, SIA has been actively engaging various stakeholders across the supply chain and in pharmaceutical export markets to ensure that it is well-positioned to transport the vaccines with speed and reliability.
The airline set up an internal Covid-19 task force in May 2020 to ensure readiness across all aspects of cargo operations, and manage safe carriage of these time- and temperature-sensitive shipments
For the financial year ended March 2020, SIA Cargo carried about 22,000 tonnes of pharmaceutical shipments across its network. Singapore’s Changi airport serves as a hub for transporting the shipments globally and plays a key part in the air transportation of pharmaceuticals, particularly biologic shipments, from Europe and India to South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
In order to strengthen its pharmaceutical transport product, SIA has been expanding its THRUCOOL1 cold chain service corridor network, with the latest additions to the network being Brisbane and Melbourne in September this year.
“SIA will make available cargo space on its flights and accord uplift priority to Covid- 19 vaccine shipments across the key vaccine trade lanes,” said the airline in a statement.
This means readying the Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft, as well as the passenger aircraft fleet which will be deployed on cargo operations to increase the capacity for vaccine transportation where needed.
Thermal protection systems are required to effectively meet the varying temperature requirements of the various vaccines that are currently in the pipeline. SIA has signed master leasing agreements with cold chain container providers such as CSafe, DoKaSch, Envirotainer, Skycell and Va-Q-Tec, to ensure that the airline has access to temperature-controlled containers to handle the large volumes of vaccines that need to be transported by air, it said in a statement.
The airline said it has been working closely with its ground handling partner at Changi Airport, SATS, to ensure that the Singapore air hub is ready to handle and store large volumes of pharmaceutical shipments effectively.