The country’s airlines gave assurance that they could handle the timely delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, which the government plans to administer to priority beneficiaries later this month.
Most of the vaccines require cold or ultracold storage and have to be delivered within a given time period so as not to lose their effectiveness.
Gilbert Santa Maria, president of Philippine Airlines (PAL), said PAL was the only airline that could fly the vaccines from Europe and the United States to the country, and in large quantities enough to satisfy the maximum safety limits for carriage of the dry ice.
“For example, we can fly from Spain to Cebu to bring Moderna vaccines direct to Visayas. We can fly from Spain direct to Davao to bring the Moderna vaccine there, right? If it’s AstraZeneca and sourced out in Belgium, then we can do the same, right? That’s our capability because we are the only carrier in the Philippines with the ultralong haul, large/wide-body aircraft,” Santa Maria said in a radio interview.
PAL also has multiple options for delivering to different parts of the country the vaccines shipped in bulk to Manila by the manufacturers, Santa Maria said.
It could also fly the vaccines to airports in other provinces and then load these in smaller aircraft or helicopters for delivery to remote destinations, he added.
Boni Sam, PAL Express president, said the airline could also go to airports where it did not fly commercially.
CebGo president Alex Reyes said Cebu Pacific was also ready to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
“We’re carrying quite a lot of medicines and primarily vaccines throughout our network,” Reyes said.
Air Asia president Ricardo Isla said the airline was applying for a permit to transport vaccines.
The airline would like to take an active role in the delivery of the vaccines once it gets its permit, Isla said. (L.B. Salaverria, inq)