Ostend Airport is getting ready to play an important role in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines. The pharmaceutical companies and their transport partners are currently looking at which airports can handle this task. Ostend airport has started modifications to receive and distribute large quantities of corona vaccines in the coming months.
“The largest aviation operation since the Second World War is currently being prepared“, says Marcel Buelens, CEO of Ostend Airport. “For the flying, storage and distribution of millions of doses of the coveted vaccine to all distribution points on the globe, Ostend airport is ready with, among others, intercontinental flights of EgyptAir and Qatar Airways Cargo. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have production facilities in the Benelux that make vaccines. There is a real chance that we will export some of these vaccines from Ostend to the rest of the world, or vaccines that are manufactured elsewhere to our country.”
In recent months, cargo planes continued to fly to Ostend with medical supplies such as mouth masks. Vaccines require a special approach, including a strictly controlled temperature. “Guaranteeing the temperature is perfectly possible at Ostend airport. We have 1,065 m² of warehouses where we can keep the temperature at the desired freezing cold. To put this in perspective: those 1,000 square meters are more than enough to store all the vaccines that the Belgian population needs, if necessary,” Buelens continues.
Cargo more than doubled in volume
Ostend Airport, like all other airports in our country and the world, has not had an easy time since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The number of passengers is still 26% of the previous year (January to October). Nevertheless, the movements at the airport still reached 78% of the previous year. This is due to a significant increase in cargo, which has more than doubled in tonnage (247%).
Crucial role in pandemic control
“While passenger flights decreased in number, cargo traffic has increased in recent months,” says Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works. “This was largely due to the demand for medical equipment from abroad, such as mouth masks and other supplies for hospitals and healthcare institutions, which are crucial in the fight against the pandemic. The Flemish regional airports are also currently getting ready to successfully complete the logistics assignment for the distribution of the vaccines.”
Ports extra asset
The proximity of the ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge and the excellent cooperation with the airport of Ostend is an additional reason to tackle the Covid pandemic via these platforms. With the ‘Cargo Village’ project (a substantial expansion of the cargo capacity that was previously planned and is now being rolled out), Ostend airport wants to put itself more emphatically on the logistics map of the world and act as an economic engine that creates employment for the entire region.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020