Delivery of vaccines to Singapore

  • 06:01 AM, 18 Feb, 2021
(Ministry of Communications and Information Photos)

(17 February 21 - Singapore) Singapore Airlines (SIA) today delivered the first shipment of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to Singapore on board one of its Boeing 747-400 freighters. The vaccines were carried on board SQ7137, a scheduled freighter service from Brussels, Belgium, and arrived in Singapore on 17 February 2021.

The vaccines were prioritised for loading into the aircraft in Brussels and was given cold-chain facility, Coolport, for subsequent storage and ground transportation.

This comes after the Airline transported the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid19 vaccines for the country on 21 December 2020. This was also the first PfizerBioNTech vaccine shipment to be delivered to a country in Asia.

Mr Chin Yau Seng, Senior Vice President Cargo, SIA says, part in transporting Covid-19 vaccines in a secure, reliable and timely manner to first shipment of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, we have had the privilege of carrying shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to Singapore, Australia and New

Zealand, as well as Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines to Indonesia, over the past two months. We, together with our partners in the Singapore air hub and across the supply chain, will continue to support this important global effort aimed at taming this pandemic.

Vaccine delivery to Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand

Globally several countries have tapped on SIA’s pharmaceutical capabilities in support of their vaccination programmes. Earlier in February, SIA transported a shipment of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines to Indonesia. The vaccines were carried on board a passenger aircraft from Singapore, where it was stored for 2.5 hours after arriving from Beijing, before departing for Jakarta on the same day.

On 15 February 2021, Singapore Airlines successfully delivered the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to both Australia and New Zealand via its Singapore hub. Together with DHL Global Forwarding, SIA ensured the cargo was given priority loading. The vaccines were also monitored throughout their journey, including during their transit in Singapore, to ensure there were no disruptions to the cold chain requirements.

In the months leading up to the deliveries, SIA has actively engaged various stakeholders across the supply chain and in pharmaceutical export markets to ensure that it is well-positioned to transport the vaccines with speed and reliability.

An internal Covid-19 task force was set up in May 2020 to ensure readiness across all aspects of cargo operations, and manage the crucial task of safely carrying these time- and temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments.

Leveraging our network connectivity

For the financial year ended March 2020, SIA Cargo carried about 22,000 tonnes of pharmaceutical shipments across its network. Singapore’s geographical location, coupled with SIA extensive network connectivity and the strong pharmaceutical handling capabilities at Singapore Changi Airport, positions it well as a key transit hub for the transportation and distribution of pharmaceuticals. It plays a key part in the air transportation of pharmaceuticals, particularly biologic shipments, from Europe and India to South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

In order to strengthen its pharmaceutical transport product, SIA has been actively expanding its THRUCOOL quality corridor network, with the latest additions to the network being Brisbane and Melbourne in September this year. THRUCOOL provides the assurance of safe and reliable transportation of time-sensitive and temperature-controlled pharmaceutical cargo on key pharmaceutical trade lanes.

Prioritising airfreight capacity for vaccine movements

SIA has made available cargo space on its flights and will accord uplift priority to Covid-19 vaccine shipments across the key vaccine trade lanes. This means readying the Airlines seven Boeing 747-400 freighters, as well as the passenger aircraft fleet which will be deployed on cargo operations to increase the capacity for vaccine transportation where needed.

Building robust capabilities to ensure product integrity

Thermal protection systems are required to effectively meet the varying temperature requirements of the various vaccines that are currently in the pipeline.

SIA has signed Master Leasing Agreements with key cold chain container providers such as CSafe, DoKaSch, Envirotainer, Skycell and Va-Q-Tec, to ensure that the Airline has access to sufficient temperature-controlled containers to handle the large volumes of vaccines that need to be transported by air.

A range of active tracking devices have also been certified for use on board the Airlines aircraft. This provides the vaccine producers and their logistics service providers with complete end-to-end visibility and tracking of the shipments (particularly temperature readings) throughout the journey, as well as the added assurance that the vaccines are handled with utmost importance and care. In addition to the active tracking of the shipments through these devices, SIA has a 24x7 cargo hub operations team that will monitor the vaccine shipments through its digital operations control tower.

The Airline was re-certified earlier this year under IATA’s CEIV Pharma programme in January 2020, and Envirotainer’s Qualified Envirotainer Provider Training and Quality Program (QEP) accreditation in November 2020. These accreditations further affirm SIA’s stringent handling process for pharmaceutical cargo in line with the highest industry standards.

Working with partners to ensure readiness as key pharmaceutical hub 

SIA has been working closely with its ground handling partner at Changi Airport, SATS, to ensure that the Singapore air hub is ready to handle and store large volumes of pharmaceutical shipments effectively. The Airline is also part of the joint public-private taskforce set up by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group. Through the joint public-private taskforce, SIA works closely with key stakeholders in the air cargo industry, as well as with regulatory authorities, to ready its capabilities to transport Covid-19 vaccines to and through the Singapore air hub.

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