Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport Gears Up For Coronavirus Vaccine


At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the pharma cargo community has joined together to ensure that the integrity of the “cold chain” will not be compromised when a functioning coronavirus vaccine is ready. A task force has begun working on four different temperature scenarios for transportation and distribution of the substance that many feel is necessary for commercial aviation to truly recover from the impact of the pandemic.

KLM 3.4 billion euro rescue package
Schiphol Airport’s cargo community has put together a task force to prepare for transporting a functioning coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Getty Images

As over 150 coronavirus vaccines are currently in development across the world, the preparations for the logistics to distribute the one that proves to be successful is already underway.

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Four different temperature scenarios

At Schiphol Airport, a task force led by Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), Schiphol Cargo, and Air France-KLM Martinair Cargo and joined by several other actors such as pharmaceutical firms, shipping companies, and airlines, has begun working on different setups for transportation.

According to Aircargo News, the workgroup is considering four different scenarios based on a range of temperatures.

“We have a strong pharma and air cargo community at Schiphol, we know what we are talking about, and we will be ready for what is coming,” Maarten van As, managing director of ACN said.


“As an industry interest group, part of the supply chain, we have a social responsibility to participate and do our part in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine – it is not just about the Netherlands, it is about getting the vaccine distributed at speed to the world,” he continued.

Schiphol prepares for COVID-19 vaccine
Hopefully, soon Schiphol will be a hub not only for passengers but for a functioning vaccine. Photo. Getty Images

Collaborating with customs as a community

The initiative means that the pharma cargo community at Schiphol will also work in close contact (figuratively) with the Dutch Government and Customs. This is necessary to facilitate a priority customs checking system as well as a quicker release. It could also entail pre-warnings, data exchange, and increased security.

“We have a responsibility as an airline to make sure the vaccines get to the right place, and we need to consider the whole journey, especially the last mile and especially for places where it can be a challenge to get the last mile right,” Enrica Calonghi, Global Head of Pharmaceutical Logistics at Air France-KLM Martinair Cargo.


“We still don’t know the how, the where to, the where from, or the when. We have to work collaboratively, and that is one positive that 2020 has brought us.”

Frankfurt Airport, COVID-19, Vaccine
Temperature-controlled transporters make sure that vaccines stay potent. The ones in the photo belong to Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Fraport

Maintaining the “cold chain”

Vaccines are fragile substances, and improper storage leads to reduced potency and safety. They must therefore be stored with great care at the proper temperature from the time they are manufactured until they are distributed and administered. This is known as the “cold chain.” If a power failure should occur, there must be sufficient measures in place so that the integrity of the cold chain is not breached.

Several airports and airlines have already taken steps to be ready when a vaccine arrives. Frankfurt Airport has opened an additional 2,000sqm of temperature-controlled space, bringing the total to 14,000.

By when do you think we will see a fully functioning vaccine? Where do you think it will come from? Let us know in the comments.