Ethiopian Airlines said it has prepared 21 cargo freighters to transport COVID-19 vaccine across the globe. Fitsum Abadi, Managing Director of Ethiopian Cargo, said the cargo freighters the airline has prepared include Boeing 777 and 787, as well as Airbus A350, all converted to handle cargo services for the vaccine's distribution.
“We are prepared on the ground with state-of-the-art facilities and on the air with brand new aircraft,” Mr. Fitsum told ENA.
During transportation, the COVID-19 vaccine is said to require a cooling level of -79 degree celsius, which Ethiopian Cargo's managing director says to be "very tough to handle in the entire world," but insists Ethiopian is well prepared for the task. Moreover, a kilogram of the vaccine will require 30 kilograms of dry ice to keep it cool.
“Ethiopia Airlines is well ahead of the situation where we have investigated what is required and established what is important on the ground in terms of dedicated human resources to handle vaccines, maintain the cold chain from warehouse up to the aircraft. We have also signed an agreement with Envirotainer [provider of active temperature-controlled containers for air cargo],” he explained.
Since the outbreak the coronavirus pandemic, Ethiopian has operated over 360 charter cargo flights and carried medical supplies to over 80 countries besides reuniting more than 63,000 citizens of different countries through charter repatriation flights.
Recently, Ethiopian has been recognized with an award for "Overall Excellence for Outstanding Crisis Leadership" for its role in combating COVID-19.