As a string of COVID-19 vaccines close to approval, Frankfurt Airport workers are gearing as much as deal with the unprecedented logistical problem of transporting hundreds of thousands of life-saving doses worldwide.
Frankfurt is Europe”s largest hub for transporting pharmaceutical items, and shall be key to the success of inoculating hundreds of thousands of individuals towards the lethal coronavirus.
“The stress is rising now that we’re getting into the ‘sizzling’ section,” Karin Krestan, Lufthansa Cargo’s director of operations, instructed AFP throughout a tour of the temperature-controlled “Cargo Cool Heart” terminal.
Krestan, who makes use of her abilities as a former nurse, is certain her workforce is prepared for the duty.
“The processes have been established, we’re very assured and we really feel properly ready,” she mentioned.
In truth, Max Philipp Conrady, head of freight infrastructure at Fraport, instructed AFP: “We have been prepared since August”.
Frankfurt’s cargo terminal has been working across the clock because the pandemic started, delivering drugs, surgical robes and masks and supporting world provide chains as passenger numbers collapsed and airways grounded planes.
The huge temperature-controlled hangar, a number of kilometres from the principle passenger terminal, dealt with 120,000 tons of vaccines, medication and different pharmaceutical merchandise in 2019, airport operator Fraport mentioned.
It has 12,000 sq. metres of temperature-controlled warehouses, important for storing medicines, with 2,000 sq. metres of chilly storage, splendid for vaccines.
Fraport not too long ago boosted funding in high-tech refrigerated “dollies” that transport vaccines from cold-storage hangars to planes, and now have 20 so a number of freighters could be loaded on the identical time.
Some vaccines, corresponding to one produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford College, could be shipped at regular fridge temperatures.
However Pfizer’s, developed on the BioNTech lab in Mainz, round 20km from the Frankfurt airport, should stay at round -70 levels C (-94 F).
That requires car-sized containers which use dry ice to maintain contents at steady, ultra-low temperatures.
They’ll achieve this for as much as 120 hours with no energy provide, lengthy sufficient to achieve far-flung locations.
The EU not too long ago agreed to purchase 300 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, presaging an enormous logistical operation, a lot of which can contain Frankfurt within the coming months.
Whereas the airport has the capability to deal with the extra-cold freight, Krestan famous that flight capability shall be a significant component within the tempo of distribution.
Offering a single dose to the world’s practically eight billion individuals would require 8,000 jumbo jets, the air transport affiliation IATA estimated in September, including that the cargo trade faces “its largest single transport problem ever”.
Cargo planes can usually carry as much as 1,000,000 doses, until sub-zero temperatures have to be maintained.