Leading airlines commit to helping UNICEF in its historic mission of transporting COVID-19 vaccines around the world

19 February 2021
This image shows a UNICEF staff on an airport runway.
UNICEF/UN0375879/Vera

COPENHAGEN/KATHMANDU, 19 February 2021 UNICEF launched the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative on Tuesday. Under this landmark initiative, over 10 leading airlines are signing agreements with UNICEF to support the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic. The Initiative will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises over the longer term. 

“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” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division. “We are grateful to these airlines for joining forces with the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.”

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, the airlines will take measures such as temperature control and security, while also adding freight capacity to routes where needed. Their commitments are critical to the timely and secure delivery of vaccines and critical supplies.  

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.

The Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative will also be deployed to deliver the first batch of COVAX funded vaccines to Nepal shortly. UNICEF is working with the supplier, airlines, and the Ministry of Health and Population to finalize the procurement and delivery to Nepal and to ensure cold chain safety and rapid vaccine distribution to vaccination sites across the country.

 

 

 

Note to the editors:

The leading airlines who joined forces with UNICEF to date to deliver COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies around the world are: AirBridgeCargo, Air France/KLM, Astral Aviation, Brussels Airlines, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, Emirates Skycargo, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, IAG Cargo, Korean Air, Lufthansa Cargo, Qatar Airways, SAUDIA, Singapore Airlines Ltd and United Airlines. Please see the latest list: https://www.unicef.org/partnerships/humanitarian-airfreight-initiative

Media contacts

Sabrina Sidhu
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 4761537
Anne Sophie Bonefeld
UNICEF ROSA
Tel: +977-9801030076

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/nepal/. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.unicef.org/coronavirus . Find out more about UNICEF’s work on the COVID-19 vaccines here, or about UNICEF’s work on immunization here.

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