Cathay Pacific on Friday said it was proud to have flown the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to Hong Kong today onboard Flight CX391 from Beijing as the airline continues to support the Hong Kong SAR Government’s vaccination programme.
Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said: “This is an important milestone in Hong Kong’s fight against COVID-19 and we are immensely proud to be doing our part in this fight. It is a successful effort, which involves close collaboration with the Airport Authority of Hong Kong, and many of our industry partners and business associates.”
Mr. Tang added that they stand ready to undertake future shipments using our vaccine solution product and support the Government in its community-wide roll out programme.
The one million doses of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines were loaded inside six temperature-controlled Envirotainer e2 RAP containers to maintain the vaccine temperature range of 2-8゜C.
Cathay Ensures Priority Unloading
The shipments were loaded closest to the aircraft doors to allow for priority unloading and upon arrival the aircraft was parked at the South Apron closest to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal at Hong Kong International Airport to reduce the towing time between the parking bay and the cargo terminal.
Meticulous planning both within Cathay Pacific and with the shipper and forwarder in Beijing, as well as the consignee in Hong Kong, was critical to ensuring the utmost precision throughout the shipping process.
As part of an airport-wide recertification of IATA’s CEIV Pharma accreditation (the internationally recognised quality-assurance scheme for pharmaceutical shipments) at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal and ground-handling subsidiary Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS) have all been re-certified. This offers a complete level of quality assurance at every stage of the import and transhipment journey.
Cathay Pacific Cargo is progressively rolling out Ultra Track as a key part of the vaccine solution. The next-generation track-and-trace system monitors information including temperature, GPS location, and humidity, using low-energy Bluetooth readers. This gives shippers and forwarders near real time visibility, and ensures vaccines will remain within their transportation temperature ranges.
Operations Control Centre
In addition, shipments using Ultra Track will also be monitored by the newly established Operations Control Centre. Based in Hong Kong, and staffed by dedicated cargo professionals 24/7, the team can instruct ramp and cargo terminal staff to take proactive steps to ensure the various storage requirements of vaccines are maintained.
The Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is being expanded to offer more temperature controlled capacity. While it is currently able to temporarily hold and transit 6.6 million doses of vaccine a day, there is more to come.
Cathay Pacific Cargo’s Mr. Owen said: “We have just expanded so that it can handle more than seven million doses, and there will be more cold storage coming online soon. This new cold room storage will be able to handle a further 1.6 million doses.”
“With the vaccine being so valuable and in such limited supply, it’s critical that we get it right at every stage of the journey. We are confident about meeting the challenge, and we stand ready to play our part,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific said that its January 2021 traffic figures showed the airline carried a total of 30,410 passengers last month, a decrease of 99 percent compared to January 2020.
The month’s revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) fell 98.7 percent year-on-year. Passenger load factor dropped by 71.4 percentage points to 13.3 percent, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 91.8 percent.
The figures “continued to reflect the airline’s substantial capacity reductions in response to significantly reduced demand as well as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place in Hong Kong and other markets amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic,” the airline said.