IATA issues guidelines to transport Covid-19 vaccines

IATA has published guidance for the air cargo industry to follow when transporting Covid-19 vaccines to ensure that they are moved safely and securely in what it says is the "largest and most complex global logistics operation ever undertaken".

The Guidance for Vaccine and Pharmaceutical Logistics and Distribution addresses how key challenges can be dealt with when moving the vaccine.

Such challenges include the availability of temperature-controlled storage facilities and contingencies when such facilities are not available; and defining the responsibilities of parties involved, such as government authorities and non-government organisations.

"The guidance includes a repository of international standards and guidelines related to the transport of vaccines and will be updated regularly as information is made available to the industry," IATA said.

It added that guidance was created with the support of numerous partners, including: the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Pan American Health Organization, UK Civil Aviation Authority, World Bank, World Customs Organization and the World Trade Organization.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's director general and chief executive, commented: "Delivering billions of doses of a vaccine that must be transported and stored in a deep-frozen state to the entire world efficiently will involve hugely complex logistical challenges across the supply chain.

"While the immediate challenge is the implementation of Covid-19 testing measures to re-open borders without quarantine, we must be prepared for when a vaccine is ready. This guidance material is an important part of those preparations."

The guidance recommends that governments and stakeholders consider: capacity and connectivity; facilities and infrastructure; border management; and security.

"The global route network has been reduced dramatically from the pre-Covid 24,000 city pairs," IATA said. "Governments need to re-establish air connectivity to ensure adequate capacity is available for vaccine distribution."

It added: "Vaccine needs to be shipped and stored in temperature-controlled environment. Some types of refrigerants are classified as dangerous goods. Considerations include availability of infrastructure, facilities and equipment and trained staff to handle time-and temperature-sensitive vaccines.

On border management: "Timely regulatory approvals and storage and clearance by customs and health authorities will be essential. Priorities for border processes include introducing fast-track procedures for overflight and landing permits for operations carrying the Covid-19 vaccine and considering tariff relief to facilitate the movement of the vaccine."

Finally, on security IATA warned that vaccines are highly valuable commodities and therefore arrangements must be in place to ensure that shipments remain secure from tampering and theft, reports London's Air Cargo News.

International air freight volumes continue to fall, says IATA

AIR FREIGHT volumes fell nearly 13 per cent worldwide in August compared to last year reports the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reports Bloomberg News.

August volume was up almost two per cent, compared to July, while freight capacity fell more than 29 per cent in August.

The slow recovery is surprising since limited capacity is expected to hold back further growth. International belly capacity was down 67 per cent in August, which is trending upward compared to 71 per cent in July. Meanwhile, Dedicated freighter capacity is up 28 per cent.

New export orders were up 5.1 per cent in the manufacturing PMI, which could mean a growing demand for goods movement as consumer spending rose through May, June, and July. Still, capacity limits mean airfreight volume can only grow what they can do.

The loss of air freight capacity has resulted in a booming business for the companies in the dedicated freighter business since March.

"There are two trends that have had substantial impact on our industry. The first key trend is the dramatic reduction of air cargo capacity as a result of the significant loss of commercial airline capacity, " said FedEx marketing chief Brie Carere.

Freighter capacity is roughly 66 per cent of the total capacity on the transatlantic lane, 83 per cent on the transpacific, and 80 per cent on the Europe-to-Asia lane.

"This compares to pre-Covid freighter capacity of 33 per cent for transatlantic, 59 per cent for transpacific and 50 per cent for Europe to Asia. FedEx Express is incredibly well-positioned to benefit from a constrained air capacity market," said Mrs Carere.

"In the month of September, we're planning on having 1,000 dedicated cargo charter flights with no passengers, just belly cargo, and serving some really important markets," said American Airlines President Robert Isom.

Regardless of this, dedicated flights from passenger airlines won't be enough to boost the capacity to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, prices will remain high for months. Rates between China, Hong Kong, and the US are up 58 per cent US$5.15 per kilogramme.

Meanwhile, exports out of the Hong Kong International Airport rose almost one per cent.

"The peak season for air cargo will start in the coming weeks, but with severe capacity constraints shippers may look to alternatives such as ocean and rail to keep the global economy moving," said IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac.

Cathay launches 12-week cargo service to Pittsburgh linking Southeast Asia

HONG Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways has temporarily expanded its operations in the Americas, with a 12-week cargo service linking Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) with Southeast Asia.

The new service will supplement the airline's existing network of 19 cargo stations throughout the Americas, including East Coast cargo services to Boston, Newark, and Washington, Dulles, and a dedicated freighter port at New York (JFK).

The temporary service originates in Ho Chi Minh (SGN), stopping at Cathay Pacific's Cargo Terminal at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), landing in PIT every Monday and Thursday until November 26, 2020.

Flight CX8800 is operated by a reconfigured Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft instead of Cathay Pacific's go-to ultra-long-haul freighter, the Boeing 747-8, of which there are currently 14 in its fleet.

"Cathay Pacific is excited to link Hong Kong, one of the world's key intermodal airfreight hubs, to Pittsburgh. The city is ideally placed between the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest, home to more than 50 per cent of the population of the United States," said Fred Ruggiero, vice president Cargo, Americas, Cathay Pacific Airways.

"Cargo remains a bright spot for the airline during this challenging time. This temporary expansion underscores Cathay Pacific's commitment to our freight forwarder partners, who requested an expanded cargo service to meet heightened demand. We are pleased to join forces with Pittsburgh International Airport and Unique Logistics and look forward to assisting with future freight needs."

In an effort to introduce additional cargo capacity where possible and help support global supply chains, Cathay Pacific reconfigured two Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft into 'preighters,' with seats removed in the economy and premium economy cabins to enable the airline to carry 12 tonnes of additional cargo under extra safety and security measures.

Cargo is currently the stronger performer for Cathay Pacific, operating over 436 pairs of cargo-only passenger flights and carrying over 102,122 tonnes of cargo and mail in August 2020.

Cargolux adds service to Shenzhen to boost China footprint

LUXEMBOURG cargo airline Cargolux has added Shenzhen to its network as it looks to strengthen its presence in China.

The freighter operator said the weekly frequency is routed Luxembourg-Bangkok-Shenzhen before returning westbound to Luxembourg via Bangkok with an additional stopover in Budapest.

Shenzhen is Cargolux's sixth destination in mainland China, reports London's Air Cargo News.

"Shenzhen is China's fourth busiest and the world's 24th busiest cargo airport," the carrier said. "The weekly scheduled all-cargo flight will further strengthen Cargolux's footprint in the area."

Domenico Ceci, Cargolux executive vice president sales and marketing, added: "Shenzhen is an important commercial gateway and this new frequency will allow us to better connect with customers in the region. This additional service between Europe and China will also offer seamless main-deck capacity between these two commercial centres."

Cargolux said the inaugural flight marks the beginning of a regular service between Luxembourg and Shenzhen but the history between the Chinese airport and Cargolux goes back several decades; in November 1992, Cargolux was the first foreign airline, cargo or passenger, to land at Shenzhen airport.

SF Express carries out first large pilotless cargo UAV flight

EXPRESS giant SF Express has completed a successful trial of a large cargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight, according to the Xinhua news agency.

The bi-plane UAV took off from an airport in the northwest Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which produces various perishable foodstuffs, on August 21 and landed at an airport in inner Mongolia after a one-hour flight.

The FH-98 plane has a maximum take-off weight of 5.25 tonnes and has been designed to carry payloads of up to 1.5 tonnes, with a cabin space of 15 cubic metres.

The aircraft has been jointly developed by SF Express and China Aerospace Times Electronics and is based on the China-developed Y-5B freighter, which itself is based on the An-2. The plane is capable of short take-offs and landing and a cruising speed of 180 kph, meaning it is suitable to serve a regional express hub and nearby cities. It is expected to greatly enhance the efficiency of regional logistics, said SF Express.

The company said it was the first time a large UAV has been used in a logistics project in China. SF Express said the drone would greatly reduce operating costs, to the point that it could eventually compete with trucks.

In 2017, SF Express set up Fonair, a subsidiary, to handle business on the large UAV. To date, Fonair has been given permission to use nine air routes to conduct test flights.