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Local airlines ready COVID-19 vaccine logistics

Aviation Updates Philippines – As the COVID-19 vaccines are set to arrive in our country this month, their transportation is highly-significant to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Philippines’ vaccination program. Assurance from our local airlines is important to ensure our preparedness once the vaccines arrive in our country.

Photo from Nek Aberia

In a news report from The Philippine Star, the three carriers expressed intent to assist in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program in the aspect of logistics.

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines said they are capable of transporting vaccines from continental sources in the United States and Europe and of bringing them to whichever airport in the Philippines. 

In an interview by state-run People’s Television (PTV), PAL President Gilbert Sta. Maria said the flag carrier is the only airline in the country that can transport the vaccine from global vaccine manufacturing sites, and deliver large quantities to satisfy maximum requirements and safety limits for the carriage of dry ice. 

“We can carry it from those continental locations and land them (at) whichever airport in the Philippines is most suitable,” Santa Maria remarked.

“For example, we can fly from Spain to Cebu to bring Moderna vaccines direct to the Visayas. We can fly from Spain direct to Davao to bring the Moderna vaccines there. If it’s AstraZeneca sourced out of Belgium, then we can do the same. That’s our capability because we are the only carrier in the Philippines with the ultra-long-haul, large wide-body aircraft.”

PAL has multiple options for aircraft that it can use across its fleet of wide-bodies, narrow-bodies, and turboprops.

On the other hand, low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific also reaffirmed its readiness to transport these vaccines.

Cebgo President and CEO Alex Reyes said Cebu Pacific has been carrying vaccines for some time now. The airline already has experience flying vaccines throughout the Cebu Pacific network.

Cebgo also has two freighter-converted ATR 72-500 aircraft which can transport vaccines and medical equipment to far-flung areas in the Philippines with shorter runways.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines is currently in the process of securing a process to transport vaccines. As vaccines are considered dangerous goods, AirAsia says it is currently acquiring a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

“The moment we are able to get our official permit as an air carrier to do transport of dangerous goods, we are very interested and we would like to help the country transport via air travel our vaccines not only to Metro Manila but going to the provinces where we fly,” said AirAsia Philippines CEO Ricky Isla.

Since the Philippines is made up of islands, air transportation for vaccines is important to ensure that all regions will get enough vaccines that they need and ensure the success of the vaccination program. Our local airlines have a role to ensure all of this thanks to their willingness and preparedness to help the country.

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