Vaccines Gateway Netherlands prepares for Covid-19 vaccine shipments

Since launching in September, VGN has begun creating ‘fast lanes’ at Schiphol to ensure “immediate in/immediate out” handling for the vaccines and ensuring very little storage time is required at the airport.

Vaccines Gateway Netherlands prepares for Covid-19 vaccine shipments

Sixty companies as part of Vaccines Gateway Netherlands (VGN) are working together at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to ensure the safe, secure and swift transportation of the Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturer to end-user now that the vaccines are approved by the European Medicine Agency, situated in Amsterdam.

The Group includes Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo and Air Cargo Netherlands members including manufacturers, Dutch airports, airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers, trucking companies, and General Sales Agents. Business services also taking part include banks, insurance companies, educational institutes, consultancies, staffing agents, and security companies.

Safe, secure, and swift
“VGN is fully committed and feels responsible to fulfil this vital task and deliver high-end quality throughout the whole airfreight supply chain,” said Ferry van der Ent, director of Business Development, Schiphol Cargo. He added, “The Taskforce strives to be the European Gateway for the most efficient, secure, and reliable handling and transportation of Covid-19 vaccines. The Corona pandemic has had a tremendous effect on all of us worldwide and this will remain the case until the virus has been eradicated, which most effectively will be achieved by a successful vaccine.”

“The vaccines will be produced at a set of specific sites around the globe and it will require a large distribution network and collaboration between stakeholders in the logistics supply chain to deliver and handle as quickly as possible. Not only is the large number of shipments expected for the Covid-19 vaccines a task, but we also expect to have to step up to maintain the vaccines in a good condition as required. Some need to be transported at -80°C, others up to 8°C. We are experienced with temperature sensitive goods and are aware of the harmful impact when exposed to temperature deviations. Therefore, we have successfully run through different scenarios and have created guidelines based on these in order to make sure we are prepared for every eventuality,” he adds.

Vaccine Fast Lanes
Since launching in September, VGN has begun creating ‘fast lanes’ at Schiphol to ensure “immediate in/immediate out” handling for the vaccines and ensuring very little storage time is required at the airport.

The Taskforce has also gained the support of local authorities, with Dutch Customs becoming an active member of the group and committing to swift and smooth checks for the vaccines. In addition, the Royal Military Police are on board to help with security measures and processes.

Scripts and scenarios have been created based on expected shipment volumes and taking into account different packaging needs of the vaccines based on different temperature ranges. VGN members are already using these to implement preparatory measures and are willing to share capacity, such as joint dry ice stock and shared cool room facilities, for example.

Knowledge sharing
“VGN members are greatly experienced in handling temperature-controlled shipments and we will be sharing knowledge and data to make sure the vaccines safely reach their destination at the right time,” said Maarten van As, managing director, Air Cargo Netherlands.

The VGN has also ensured that all hauliers, forwarders, airlines, and handler members are GDP compliant and, in most cases, have additional CEIV certification. The shared knowledge of each VGN member will ensure the swift, secure and safe transport of the vaccines for the Dutch Cargo Community.

“The VGN supports a great deal of knowledge sharing amongst members and brings together both local and International communities to ensure we are ready to receive, process and fly the vaccines,” said Marcel Kuijn, director, Pricing, Capacity and Contracting, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo.

In 2019, AMS had 108 airlines serving 332 destinations in 95 different countries, with 28 cargo-only services. The Dutch offer the most direct scheduled destinations of any mainland European Airport, *with the Netherlands being named the best globally connected country by the DHL Global Connectedness Index 2020. Seven ground handlers are active at Schiphol providing services for over 600 full freighter aircraft per month.

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