Frankfurt Cargo Services handles first Covid vaccine shipments

FCS vaccine
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Frankfurt Cargo Services (FCS) handles its first shipments of Covid-19 vaccines from German biotechnology company BioNTech as the airport gears up to facilitate vaccine shipments.

Doses of the vaccine were handled at FCS’ facility at Frankfurt’s CargoCity Süd before being loaded into the cargo hold of a Royal Jordanian Airlines’ A319 bound for Amman.

FCS, a subsidiary of Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and the largest airline-independent cargo handler at Frankfurt Airport, has been preparing to support Covid vaccine shipments since last year. The efforts are part of WFS’ Project Coldstream initiative to coordinate the group’s global response to the anticipated transportation of some 16 billion doses of vaccine.

In Frankfurt, this has included gaining CEIV Pharma certification by IATA in September, as well as the Pharma and Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certification by the European Union in November respectively, to ensure compliance with the quality requirements of airlines and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

FCS vaccine
Air cargo container with Corona vaccines dispatched by FCS.

For the vaccine shipments, FCS says its dedicated pharma handling personnel takes responsibility for all the required warehouse processes from the point of delivery to the airport, checking the integrity of packaging, and constantly monitoring the temperature of the consignment to ensure it maintained strict -70°C requirements. Shortened handover times for ramp transportation to the aircraft were also introduced, allowing doses of the vaccine to remain in FCS’ temperature-controlled pharma storage location until close to the flight departure time.

“FCS prepared early and thoroughly to offer its customers the highest and safest standards for vaccine handling,” says Claus Wagner, managing director of FCS. “The fact that the first handling of a vaccine together with Royal Jordanian Airlines happened smoothly and quickly confirms our claim to be a highly relevant gateway between air and land transport, especially during the Corona crisis.”

WFS currently operates 12 dedicated pharma facilities in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Miami, New York JFK, and its EUR 10 million state-of-the-art Pharma Centre at Paris CDG. These facilities are all either IATA CEIV or Good Distribution Practice (GDP) certified or compliant.

Project Coldstream is leveraging all of WFS’ pharma handling capabilities to ensure vaccine shipments are handled quickly, securely, and in full compliance with international temperature and quality guidelines.

Its service offering includes:

  • Dedicated facilities in the heart of airport cargo zones to expedite handling of imports and exports;
  • Specialist pharma handling teams;
  • Ability to manage shipments requiring both +2°C to +8°C and +15°C to +25°C temperature environments, and -20°C in some of its stations;
  • Real-time temperature monitoring and temperature excursion alarms;
  • Full track and trace capabilities;
  • Active temperature-controlled container handling;
  • Temperature-controlled trucks, trailers, and dollies;
  • Landside and airside acceptance.

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