Astral Aviation Limited has signed an agreement with UNICEF to support the launch of its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative for the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic.
Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division said: “Delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes. We are grateful to these airlines for joining forces with the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO Astral Aviation re-affirmed: “We are truly honored for being selected by UNICEF to participate in the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative, based on our track-record in performing humanitarian flights within Africa and the Middle East in the past twenty years. We will be placing our entire fleet of B747F, B767F, B727F, DC9F, CRJ-200, Fokker 50 and Fokker 27 on high priority, which is critical to the timely and secure delivery of vaccines and critical supplies, as we consider it our moral-obligation to ensure that no person in Africa is left-behind due to lack of aircraft capacity.”
The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative brings together the airlines covering routes to over 100 countries, in support of the COVAX Facility – the global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Based on the COVAX Facility’s indicative distribution and first round allocation plan, 145 countries will receive doses to immunize around three per cent of their population, on average, starting in the first half of 2021, subject to all requirements being met and final allocation plans.
In addition to prioritizing shipments of these life-saving supplies, Astral Aviation will take measures such as temperature control and security, while also adding freighter capacity to routes where needed.
Safe, timely and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies is critical to supporting access to essential services for children and families. COVAX deliveries and the subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will support health and social care systems to safely resume these critical services.
Michael Mutahi, Chief Operations Officer of Astral Aviation, said: “Astral’s Pharma Product combined with the expertise of its Pharma team provides a reliable and efficient service for temperature sensitive products across the network, which includes safe re-packing and re-icing service which will enhance the cool-chain value of vaccines for onward distribution within Africa.”