Wow: United Airlines Is Already Flying Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine

United Airlines yesterday began operating flights to position doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Chicago-based carrier is preparing for quick distribution if regulators approve the shot.

United Airlines Livery
United is getting the ball rolling. Photo: Getty Images

Plan in place

According to the Wall Street Journal, the initial charter services are one link in a global supply chain being put together. Several companies are joining forces to take on the challenge of distributing the vaccine. Altogether, Pfizer has been busy putting motions in place to roll out its product. Ultimately, it is a waiting for the Food and Drug Administration and other worldwide regulators give the go-ahead.

For instance, there are refrigerated storage sites at the company’s final-assembly centers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Puurs, Belgium. Moreover, it is expanding storage capacity at distribution sites in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and Karlsruhe, Germany. United plans to perform chartered cargo services between Brussels International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport to support distribution.

United planes SFO
United Airlines asked for permission to carry more dry ice than is typically allowed to maintain the significantly low temperatures needed to distribute Pfizer’s vaccine. Photo: Getty Images

Industry support

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that it is supporting what it calls the first mass air shipment of a vaccine. Moreover, it is collaborating with carriers to safely transport these vaccines.

“As a result of the historic pace of vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed and careful logistics planning, the FAA today is supporting the first mass air shipment of a vaccine,” the FAA said, as reported by CNN.

“In addition to mitigating safety risks related to the safe transport of vaccines, the FAA is ensuring around-the-clock air traffic services to keep air cargo moving and prioritizing flights carrying cargo, such as vaccines, and personnel critical to the nation’s response to and recovery from Covid-19.

United Airlines Aircraft at Newark Liberty International
The FAA said it would allow United Airlines to hold 15,000 pounds of dry ice per flight, which is five times the amount that is usually permitted. Photo: Getty Images

Ready to help

Simple Flying reached out to United Airlines for comment on these flights. A spokesperson for the airline said that United Cargo established a COVID Readiness Task Team earlier this summer to help ensure that it has the right people, products, services, and partnerships in place to support a vaccine distribution effort on a global scale.

Altogether, the company is committed to its pharmaceutical and medical customers. It is ready to safely and effectively support their vaccine transportation needs. Above all, the safety of these commodities is the outfit’s priority. It is proud to be a trusted partner in these efforts.

Airlines and airports will play a crucial role in the introduction of an approved vaccine. Several institutions around the global have been preparing well both on the ground and in the air ahead of the distribution mission.

What are your thoughts about United Airlines flying Pfizer’s vaccine? Are you impressed with the progress being made regarding the future introduction of the shot? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.