Distributing coronavirus vaccines all around the world is a unique logistical challenge for the airline industry. This has resulted in many long-haul flights being operated to get this special cargo to where it needs to be at the right time. One of these took place yesterday, as Emirates flew a vaccine-laden Boeing 777 to Brazil.
Two million doses
As reported on Twitter yesterday by FlightRadar24.com, Emirates flight EK9255 represented the latest vaccine delivery to South America. The service from Dubai International (DXB) to São Paulo/Guarulhos International (GRU) was the second leg of the journey for a shipment that had originated in India.
It departed Dubai at 09:47 local time, and touched down some 14 hours and 38 minutes later, at 17:25. Emirates has been preparing for such flights since October, when Simple Flying reported that it had created “the world’s first dedicated airside cargo hub” for the vaccine. The Brazilian Ministério da Saúde (Ministry of Health) took to Twitter to report that two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been delivered in the shipment.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
The aircraft involved
The aircraft that transported the vaccines to Brazil was a Boeing 777-300ER, with the registration A6-EGI. According to Planespotters.net, this aircraft has been at Emirates for its entire career, having first arrived in November 2011.
Following its arrival in São Paulo, A6-EGI has flown one further sector, according to FlightRadar24.com. This was the three-and-a-half-hour long hop to Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL). It arrived in the Chilean capital just after midnight last night.
Emirates had been planning to operate its Brazil-bound January flights with the Airbus A380, rather than the 777. However, it made a U-turn on the decision last month, citing operational factors as opposed to a lack of demand.
Other vaccine flights
São Paulo is no stranger to handling batches of vaccines arriving by air. Just last month, 14 tonnes of the precious cargo, representing around two million doses, arrived from Zürich, Switzerland. They were flown in on a SWISS Airbus A340-300, whose journey had originated in Beijing, China.
Elsewhere in South America, an Aerolíneas Argentinas Airbus A330-200 brought 300,000 doses of the second component of the Sputnik V vaccine to Buenos Aires. The aircraft flew them in directly from the Russian capital of Moscow. The flight, which took place last weekend, spent 16 hours and 41 minutes in the air.
Aside from transporting the finished product, airlines are also crucial in creating the vaccine. Aeroméxico, for example, flew 2.4 tonnes of an active substance used to develop vaccines out of Buenos Aires earlier this week. While vaccination efforts will remain an ongoing process for the foreseeable future, it is good to see airlines playing their part in accelerating this vital process.
How do you think the airline industry is handling its role in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.