Since November 2020, over 1 billion Covid vaccines have been forwarded from Brussels Airport. Time for a celebration, marked with a Chicago-bound consignment delivered by Expeditors and
Of the more than 1 billion vaccines, 750 million were exported, 250 imported, and several million transferred. They were shipped daily to over 60 countries worldwide, with the US being the most prominent one.
A great number of airlines are involved in this traffic: United Airlines, DHL Express, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Hainan Airlines, TUI Fly, Singapore Airlines, TAP, Iberia, Lufthansa Cargo, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways. They are supported by freight forwarders such as Expeditors, DHL Global Forwarding, and Kuehne+Nagel.
Brussels Airport has the largest number of certified companies under the IATA Pharma CEIV Program. Together with the umbrella organization, Air Cargo Belgium, the airport created the BRUCure Taskforce specifically to deal with the vaccine transports. In all, the airport has over 35,000 m² of temperature-controlled warehouses.
Pharmaceuticals make up 10% of the airport’s volume, with some 500 dedicated staff involved. Since December, the vaccines have been joined by Covid pills, which require similar treatment even if they are more sensitive to temperature variation.
On 10MAR22, an (unmarked) consignment, packed at the premises of the producer (Pfizer), was delivered to Expeditors’ Pharma Centre at Brucargo West, which has a permanent 24/7 controlled temperature of +15°-+25° C. Due to the dry ice put in at the production facility, a monitored -70°C could be guaranteed.
“The bulk of the products stored in this warehouse is temperature-sensitive, so dedicated packing is imperative,” said Expeditor’s District Manager for Belgium & Luxembourg, Peter van Domburg.
United Airlines has operated over 80 so-called freight-only flights, using the belly space only and leaving the passenger compartment empty since the beginning of the vaccine distribution, said Manu Jacobs, Managing Director Speciality Products United Cargo.
For these flights, the airline was able to obtain an exemption to the dry ice restriction regulation imposed by the American FAA. “But it was only after extensive testing with Boeing, the packing provider, and the pharma shippers, that FAA granted us the permission to do so.”
At the Expeditors warehouse, the consignment was loaded into one of Brussels Airport’s Airside Pharma Transporters, designed to maintain the required temperature during the transport to the aircraft. About an hour later, the plane took off to Chicago.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels.
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.