October 22, 2020 Archived 34

Covid-19 vaccine: A logistical challenge for the Air Cargo Industry

Participants were asked during the recent joint webinar of TIACA and Pharma. Aero project Sunrays Project, what will happen to general cargo when a vaccine starts to be delivered.

The vaccine was described by Neel Jones Shah, global head of air freight at freight forwarder Flexport, as “the largest product launch in human history.” He said there would be an impact on capacity availability, although it was difficult to tell at this point what the scale of the impact would be. He pointed out that air cargo capacity is affected even when Apple launches a new product.

“In terms of the amount of available capacity, there is going to be an impact because the global passenger fleet is largely suspended,” he said.

We have lost a very large percentage of belly freight, probably over 80 percent of the capacity of belly cargo has been reduced, so we are globally in a situation of under capacity.

“We don’t really know to what extent this affects regular commercial cargo yet, because we don’t know the regional production and distribution strategy for all pharmaceutical shippers and how much of this vaccine will have to travel by air vs. how much can go on the road network.”

He said that once the exact volumes are known and how much can be carried and what type of aircraft is best suited for shipments of vaccines, the industry will have a clearer picture of the overall global commercial impact of this project.

“This isn’t a four week effort, this is a 2021 into 2022 effort, so it will be spread out over a number of months and not just impact the Christmas logistics need.”

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