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Emirates SkyCargo expands pharma-handling capacity in Dubai

The airline has transported 75 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to date and aims to ship 100 million by end of June

Emirates SkyCargo expanded its pharmaceuticals-handling capacity at Dubai International Airport as it aims to carry more Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The new extension of the airline's fully automated cool room at its dedicated pharmaceuticals facility will provide an additional 2,600 square metres of temperature-controlled environment (2-25 degrees Celsius) for storing and handling vaccines and other pharmaceuticals, Emirates SkyCargo said on Tuesday.

The airline, which so far transported 75 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, aims to carry 100 million doses by the end of June, it said. The new extension can hold an estimated 60 million to 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines at any time.

"We anticipate that there will be an increase in demand to transport vaccines to developing nations during the second half of the year," Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president for cargo, said. “Already, we have seen a ramping up of Covid-19 vaccine volumes that were transported over the last few weeks in line with increased manufacturing.”

In January 2020, Emirates SkyCargo partnered with DP World, International Humanitarian City and Dubai Airports to form the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance aimed at rapidly transporting Covid-19 vaccines through Dubai to developing countries. A month later, it signed an agreement with Unicef to expedite the transportation of Covid-19 vaccines under the Covax initiative. Throughout the pandemic, it has also transported thousands of tonnes of other essential medical supplies such as PPE, pharmaceuticals and other equipment on its flights.

Emirates SkyCargo also recently said it would transport urgent Covid-19 relief supplies to India, which has been struggling under the strain of a new virus variant. Under the initiative, it is offering any available cargo capacity on its flights from Dubai to nine destinations in India, free of charge, for NGOs transporting medical and relief items.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) calculated that the transportation of Covid-19 vaccines to 7.8 billion people around the world will be a mammoth task, requiring the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft for global distribution, making it the aviation industry's biggest transportation challenge ever.

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