In view of the approvals of various COVID-19 vaccines in many countries, Lufthansa Cargo is well prepared for their global distribution in the coming months. Air freight is indispensable for the fast and reliable intercontinental distribution of highly sensitive pharmaceuticals. Therefore, a dedicated task force has prepared a variety of possible transport scenarios since spring.
‘The distribution of temperature- and time-sensitive pharmaceuticals is extremely demanding. We were one of the first airlines to specialise in the transport of medical goods and pharmaceuticals and can therefore draw on many years of experience. Thanks to the recent expansion of our ground infrastructure, we can also handle larger volumes and transport them worldwide while supporting our customers to maintain the cold chain,’ explained Peter Gerber, CEO of Lufthansa Cargo.
‘In 2019, we transported around 100,000 tons of pharmaceuticals. We are ready to make another important contribution to overcoming the pandemic by distributing the vaccines worldwide.’
While the transport of COVID-19 vaccines is already available with Lufthansa Cargo the company now announced a premium product to its customers that were specifically developed for the transport of COVID-19 vaccines. The product called COVID-19 Temp Premium will be bookable as of 11th January 2021 and will provide a high level of comprehensive and personalised customer service along the travel chain, including seamless monitoring of vaccine shipments throughout the entire process and a 24/7 after-sales support.
Additionally, COVID-19 Temp Premium includes high priority capacity access, Lufthansa Cargo’s fastest speed option in combination with temperature focus and a comprehensive security concept as well as bookability throughout the entire Lufthansa Cargo network.FFF
For the transport of pharmaceuticals, three temperature ranges (based on the ambient temperature) are available in airfreight: Controlled Room Temperature for shipments with a transport temperature range of +15°C to +25°C, cool storage for shipments with a transport temperature range of +2°C to +8°C and deep-frozen storage for shipments with a transport temperature range of -10°C or below.
By using special refrigerated containers and means, such as dry ice, the most diverse requirements of pharmaceutical manufacturers can be met. Accordingly, Lufthansa Cargo also has experience with transports in the ultra-frozen range (-70°C).
The specific packaging, transport, handling and storage requirements of the various COVID-19 vaccines, and the quantities to be transported, by which routes and over which periods of time, are partly still open. The actual transport routes of the vaccines depend largely on the future production sites for approved vaccines and the respective recipient markets. With its current freighter fleet of 18 aircraft, Lufthansa Cargo is able to respond flexibly to shifts in demand. If necessary, the provision of additional belly capacity can also be examined.
As a carrier, Lufthansa Cargo provides its customers with capacity for transporting goods from airport to airport. The carrier uses the global network of its own freighter aircraft as well as the flights of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings that are open for cargo. Clients consist of air freight forwarding companies.
For cargo handling at airports, the necessary ground infrastructure is an important factor. Even before the pandemic, Lufthansa Cargo already invested heavily in its temperature control facilities, including the brand new Lufthansa Cargo Pharma Hub Munich as well as the recently extended and upgraded Lufthansa Cargo Pharma Center Chicago at O’Hare International Airport.
Furthermore, with its pharmaceutical hubs and up to 200 other stations with Active Temp Control or Passive Temp Support services worldwide, Lufthansa Cargo has one of the world’s largest airline pharmaceutical networks. 30 of these stations are already CEIV Pharma-certified. As a global standard, the certification demonstrates that the facility meets strict criteria for the proper handling and storage of pharmaceutical shipments.
The International Air Transport Association developed the IATA CEIV Pharma standard, together with pharmaceutical forwarding companies and airlines, in order to harmonise quality requirements across industries. With its own high-quality standards, Lufthansa Cargo was one of the first airlines worldwide to be CEIV-Pharma certified and is continuing to expand its network of certified stations worldwide.