World’s largest vaccine delivery hub; UAE’s Emirates SkyCargo assumes leadership

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Emitrates SkyCentral
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Dubai-based cargo airline, Emirates SkyCargo is stepping up its readiness to tackle the logistical challenges of delivering a potential COVID-19 vaccine globally by establishing the world’s first dedicated airside cargo center for the vaccine in Dubai.

By announcing that it will re-open its Emirates SkyCentral DWC (Dubai World Central) cargo terminal in Dubai South to act as a dedicated anchor hub for the cold chain storage and distribution of the vaccine, the air cargo carrier is taking a global leadership role.

A dedicated rapid response team has also been set up by Emirates’ freight division to coordinate requests from the different stakeholders involved in the international vaccine distribution ecosystem and to streamline the carrier’s response to requests for vaccine transportation.

The vaccine center of Emirates SkyCargo in Dubai South will be the largest dedicated airside facility for COVID-19 vaccines in the world. The Dubai hub will allow an air freight carrier to fly vaccines from global manufacturing sites, store and prepare shipments for regional and global distribution.

Emirates SkyCentral DWC has a licensed dedicated pharmaceutical storage area of over 4,000 square meters of temperature-controlled GDP, facilitating large-scale storage and distribution of potential COVID-19 vaccines. Overall, it is estimated that about 10 million vials of vaccine can be kept in the facility at a temperature range of 2-8 degrees Celsius at any given time.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum

“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. Over the years, through our continuous investment in capabilities and processes for the transport of temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals, Emirates SkyCargo has managed to position Dubai amongst major global pharmaceutical customers as the year-round preferred point of transit for their valuable cargo. Setting up a dedicated airside hub for COVID-19 vaccines is a keystone project harnessing our network, reach and competencies to positively impact the lives of people around the world.”

Emirates SkyCentral DWC’s state-of-the-art infrastructure is also complemented by one of the world’s largest Cool Dollies fleets that help protect temperature-sensitive cargo during transit between the aircraft and the cargo terminal. Furthermore, the proximity of the terminal to the aircraft parking gates and the availability of a large number of temperature-controlled trucking docks would ensure fast and effective clearance of cargo for further delivery.

Emirates SkyCargo will also offer its clients, in addition to cold storage, dedicated zones for value-added facilities, such as re-icing and packaging of vaccines for global delivery.

The cargo carrier will then be able to carry the vaccines to markets where they will be most needed through a combination of scheduled and charter flights.

In order to develop innovative solutions that will meet the challenge of delivering a potential COVID-19 vaccine internationally within a limited timeframe, Emirates SkyCargo integrates decades of experience gained from transporting temperature-controlled pharmaceutical goods and vaccines to global manufactures.

In the last four years, Emirates SkyCargo has transferred more than a quarter-million tonnes of pharmaceutical products. Emirates SkyCargo is a member of the Cool Chain Association, which was established to harmonize the global movement and handling of perishables and temperature-sensitive products.