China Airlines today (04/04) delivered 199,200 doses of AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine from Amsterdam to Taiwan. As temperature control is critical to vaccine transport, the latest A350-900 passenger aircraft was dispatched by China Airlines to carry out the mission. Flight CI074 departed from Amsterdam at 11:05 local time and flew directly to Taipei. The cargo hold was maintained at low temperature throughout the 12-hour flight. The aircraft arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 5:29 a.m. Taipei time and successfully delivered its cargo.
The COVID-19 vaccine was the first batch ordered by Taiwan to be delivered by a Taiwan-based carrier. A vaccine transport task force set up by China Airlines immediately jumped into action. AZ vaccine must be kept between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius during transportation. To ensure that the vaccine could be delivered on schedule, guaranteed cargo space was provided by China Airlines. A dedicated pharmaceutical-grade temperature-controlled vehicle was ordered to transport the cargo directly from the pharmaceutical plant to Schiphol Airport.
The 199,200 doses of vaccine were temporarily placed in a temperature-controlled warehouse after arriving at Schiphol Airport. The packaged vaccines were carefully processed by China Airlines and built up on the pallet by authorized cargo agents. After making sure that everything had been secured, the pallet was escorted to the apron to minimize transit time then loaded into the belly hold of the A350-900. The vaccine was placed in forward compartment so that it could be unloaded as quickly as possible upon arrival. The air-conditioning system was switched on by the captain in advance to pre-cool the hold to ensure that it would be maintained between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius throughout the flight.
China Airlines drew on its years of experience with cold chain logistics for the latest vaccine transport mission. Warehouse check-in, cargo buildup, pallet loading, and unloading processes were all carried out with the ease of long practice. Cargo handling personnel also double-checked and took photographs during every step of the process. Flight CI074 flew directly from Amsterdam to Taipei as fast as possible. Once the vaccine arrived in Taiwan, it was unloaded right away at the designated apron and towed to the warehouse to be processed as priority cargo. It was loaded into a refrigerated truck and delivered to the consignee. The entire process was monitored to keep the vaccine refrigerated and quality assured.
China Airlines began developing its pharmaceutical cold chain logistics service in 2013 and became the first carrier in Taiwan to receive CEIV Pharma certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This certification qualifies the carrier to provide a secure and stable temperature-controlled environment for certain vaccines and drugs. The drugs being shipped must be maintained at the required temperature range throughout each link of the cold chain. Temperature-controlled containers are not only loaded last but must also be given priority for unloading and warehouse entry. The cargo hold must be temperature-controlled throughout the flight as well. China Airlines maintains close ties with leading cold-chain cargo forwarders and general sales agents around the world as well. Door-to-door delivery packages are offered based on vaccine shipping plan to ensure a seamless transition between every stage of the transportation process.
China Airlines Cargo has a worldwide network with flights to major cities in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. All concerned station personnel and agents around the world have undergone training regarding temperature-controlled course and regular audits are also conducted by IATA periodically; extra drills were also held by stations involved in vaccine transport including practicing of standard procedures, simulated delivery, and emergency response. Every effort is made to ensure the quality of service and continuity of the cold chain.
As one of the leading air cargo service providers in the world, China Airlines was tasked with the transport of epidemic prevention and emergency medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the post-COVID era, China Airlines will continue to exploit Taiwan’s advantage as the geographic hub of the Asia-Pacific region and make the most of its 21 freighters and 64 passenger aircraft in transporting shipments around the world. China Airlines also stands ready to provide high-quality vaccine transport services for other countries if necessary.