Cathay Pacific expands cold storage as the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine begins

FILE PHOTO: A Cathay Pacific plane is seen in front of an air traffic control tower at Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong, China, Oct 24, 2020. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd is expanding its cold storage facilities in its cargo terminal to allow it to temporarily hold more than 8.6 million vaccine doses per day as countries begin approving COVID vaccines. -19.

Its current capacity is approximately 7.1 million doses and a new cold storage room will allow for an additional 1.5 million doses, Cathay Cargo director Tom Owen said in a newsletter on Friday.

Airlines battered by COVID-19 are preparing for key roles in the mass introduction of the vaccine that promises to unlock an immediate boost for the industry and, beyond that, its own recovery and survival.

“We are the third largest freight carrier in the world, and with our 20 dedicated freighters and passenger aircraft cargo bellies supporting our extensive cargo network, we are ready to assist with what will be the largest humanitarian response to a situation that it involves civil aviation that anyone has ever seen, “Owen said.

Cathay has invested in a next-generation track-and-trace system called Ultra Track to allow shippers to monitor the condition of vaccine shipments in real time.

“We will offer the service free of charge for any shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from all vaccine manufacturing centers,” Owen said.

Ultra Track uses a low-energy Bluetooth transmitter that can record and transmit GPS positions, temperature, vibration and humidity in real time.

More than half of vaccines go to waste globally every year due to temperature control, logistics and shipping problems.

Logistical hurdles are a significant risk to efforts to rapidly distribute COVID-19 vaccines, but they have led to a boom in business for companies selling technology for tracking shipments from factory freezer to shot in the arm.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Karishma Singh