Schiphol, KLM begin preparations to transport & store Covid vaccines
Schiphol will soon be one of the most important distribution points for the coronavirus vaccines in the world. And as such the airport and airline combination Air France-KLM are working hard on preparations to store and transport these highly anticipated vaccines, Het Parool reports.
"Perhaps 15 billion vaccines are needed worldwide," Adriaan den Heijer of Air France-KLM said to the newspaper. A third will be transported by air. That will require somewhere between 1,000 and 7,000 cargo planes. Air France-KLM will perform 10 to 20 percent of those flights.
The coronavirus vaccines will be collected in countries like India, China and the United States, and taken by plane to Schiphol. From there they'll be flown to Africa, Latin America and Asia. Vaccines for Europe will be distributed by truck from Schiphol.
Cargo buildings 1 and 2 at Schiphol are being equipped for storing vaccines, which must be kept at between -2 and -8 degrees Celsius. Refrigerated containers are ready and waiting in Cargo 1. Each container can hold up to 30 thousand vaccines. And KLM's freight jumbos can carry 41 containers at a go. Cargo 2 is being converted into a cold store.
"We don't know exactly when the vaccines will arrive, we do not know how many and not exactly from where and to where," Marcel Kuijn, responsible for pharmaceutical transport at Air France KLM Cargo, said to Het Parool. "It is getting closer, but those vaccines also have to be approved. As soon as there's a green light, we have to start immediately.
By transporting vaccines, KLM gives something back to the Netherlands, which bailed the airline out with a 3.4 billion euros support package, Den Heijer said to the newspaper. "This shows the importance of KLM. Nobody wants a pandemic, but now we can show what we are worth. We already did that with masks and other medical equipment. This is more complicated, but the social importance is the same."