More than ten airlines have signed a memorandum of understanding with UNICEF as part of the Humanitarian Air Freight campaign, which aims to transport Covid-19 vaccines around the world.
Air France-KLM Martinair Cargo, AirBridgeCargo, Astral Aviation, Brussels Airlines, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, Emirates Skycargo, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, IAG Cargo, Korean Air, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways, Saudia and Singapore Airlines responded to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Cargo Initiative, created to secure the transport of vaccines and other vital supplies around the world. The signatories pledged to “prioritize the delivery of vaccines, essential drugs, medical devices and other essential supplies to respond to the pandemic.”
To help UNICEF reach participating countries “quickly and safely”, airlines have pledged to prioritize the transport of vital supplies, “ensuring measures such as temperature control and security and adding freight capacity to routes if necessary ”. The initiative supports the COVAX program, a global solution to the health crisis that guarantees participating countries equitable access to vaccines, regardless of their income level. As part of COVAX, UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of quality-assured COVID-19 vaccines for low-income and lower-middle-income countries.
The participation of the airline industry is vital to supporting equal access to vaccines around the world. The initiative will also serve as a global logistical preparedness mechanism for other longer-term humanitarian and health crises.
The safe, timely and efficient transport of life-saving supplies is essential to promote access to essential services for children and families, and the role of the aviation industry in this regard is essential. Deliveries of COVAX and subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will help health and social care systems to safely resume these essential services.