Emirates SkyCargo is stepping up its readiness to handle the logistic challenges of distributing the highly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine globally by creating the world’s first dedicated airside cargo hub for the vaccine in Dubai.
The air cargo carrier said it will be re-opening its Emirates SkyCentral DWC cargo terminal in Dubai South to serve as a dedicated anchor hub for cold chain storage and distribution of the vaccine.
Dubai as vaccine distribution hub
The freight division of Emirates has also set up a dedicated rapid response team to coordinate requests from parties involved in the vaccine distribution.
"Dubai is well-positioned to serve as a gateway and distribution hub for COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world. We have the infrastructure and logistics connections, and a geographic location that puts markets representing more than two-thirds of the world’s population within an 8-hour flying radius," HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive said.
He noted that Emirates SkyCargo has been able to position Dubai as a preferred point of transit for valuable cargo among the major global pharmaceutical customers over the years through its continuous investment in the transport of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.
First dedicated airside hub for COVID-19 vaccine
Emirates SkyCargo said its vaccine hub in Dubai South will be the largest dedicated airside facility in the world for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Dubai hub will allow the air cargo carrier to fly in vaccines from manufacturing sites globally, store and prepare shipments for regional and global distribution.
Emirates SkyCentral DWC has over 4,000 square metres of temperature controlled GDP certified dedicated pharma storage area allowing for large scale storage and distribution of the potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Overall, it is estimated that the facility can hold around 10 million vials of vaccine at a 2-8 degrees Celsius temperature range at any one point of time.
Emirates SkyCargo noted that the facility is also complemented by one of the world’s largest fleet of Cool Dollys helping protect temperature-sensitive cargo during transit between the aircraft and cargo terminal.
It added that the availability of a large number of temperature-controlled trucking docks and the proximity of the terminal to the aircraft parking gates will also help ensure rapid and efficient clearance of cargo for further distribution.
Emirates SkyCargo noted that it has moved more than a quarter-million tonnes of pharmaceutical cargo in the last four years.
As of October, it has restored its worldwide network and cargo connectivity with flight services to nearly 135 destinations covering all major pharmaceutical clusters and manufacturing locations.
"The extensive size of the facility, which can potentially handle millions of vaccine doses, along with the creation of a dedicated team to handle and execute requests will allow Emirates SkyCargo to be able to effectively handle the large volume of time-critical requests for cross-border vaccine movement that will follow the successful introduction of a vaccine," the air cargo carrier said.