Air France employees load a Boeing 777 cargo plane with Active Temperature Control containers carrying rabies vaccines at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris (Reuters)
NEW DELHI: Indian airlines and airport operators have started preparing for the mammoth task of taking Covid vaccines across the country. While meeting Pfizer’s minus 70 degrees Celsius requirement for its vaccines will be “difficult”, they are gearing up to set up cold chain storage for the jab job that needs to be done on an unprecedented scale of several crore shots to even begin with.
The GMR Group, which operates Delhi and Hyderabad airports, says the air cargo units of both these places are getting ready to “play a pivotal role in the distribution of vaccines through state of the art time and temperature-sensitive distribution system” with cool chambers ranging from +25°C to -20°C. Budget carrier SpiceJet’s cargo arm, SpiceXpress, has tied up with global cold chain solution providers to perform seamless cold chain operations and offers cargo shipment with controlled ambient temperature between +25 degrees Celsius to -40 degrees Celsius.
Many other airports and airlines are also learnt to be preparing for vaccine transportation – possibly the largest ever air cargo opportunity so far; comments from them were awaited.
Delhi Airport has two cargo terminals that can handle over 1.5 lakh metric tonne (1 MT is 1,000 kg) and has “temperature-controlled zones with separate cool chambers ranging from +25°C to -20°C, which would be extremely conducive for distribution of Covid 19 vaccines,” said a spokesperson.
A Hyderabad airport spokesperson said the “GMR Hyderabad air cargo (GHAC) is located in epicentre of India’s vaccine production region”. “GHAC has India’s first pharma zone with certified temperature-controlled facility for handling temperature-sensitive cargo. The terminal is equipped with various temperature zones from -20 to +25 degrees Celsius…,” he said.