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Covid-19: the Cargo community at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is fully mobilized and getting ready for the delivery of future vaccines


Acting together within the ACFA (Air Cargo France Association), the entire Cargo community  at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Europe’s leading airport for air freight activities, is rallying round massively to prepare for the supply and distribution of future Covid-19 vaccines, once these have been approved and are ready to be delivered.

ACFA, a professional association bringing together all cargo operators at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (airport platform, freight forwarders, handlers, express operators and airlines) as well as the French state services (delegation of the Prefecture of Police for the safety and security of Paris airports, Directorate General of Customs and Excise, French Civil Aviation Authority) has already begun studying and working on identifying the main actions to be implemented to ensure that the airport will play an exemplary role  in the supply and distribution of future Covid-19 vaccines.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, freight and logistics players at Paris-Charles de Gaulle have been actively committed to ensuring the continuity of cargo activity and the transport of foodstuff and essential goods for the country’s economy: medical equipment and materials, food products, components and spare parts for industries.

Over the past years, several major operators in Cargo city at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport have received CEIV Pharma (Center of Excellence for Independent Validators) certification, which has become the international standard in the transportation of pharmaceutical products and especially vaccines.

ACFA is currently working on new areas for improvement in order to increase the airport’s level of performance in managing vaccine flows, with two main watchwords: speed and safety. 

  • Speed: to minimize transit time of vaccines at the airport. In this context, discussions are mainly focused on customs clearance procedures and on the overall reduction of vaccine transit time between road trucks and planes;
  • Safety: operations are carried out by pharmaceutical product logistics specialists who have developed a long-standing and worldwide expertise.

Thanks to their GDP (Good Distribution Practices) certifications issued by the European Medicines Agency or PHARMA CEIV (Center of Excellence for Independent Validators) issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport’s operators guarantee safe treatment that complies with the highest standards in the pharmaceutical sector.

With more than 3,500 sq. m of warehouses dedicated to the storage of heat-sensitive products between +2 °and +8° (Celsius), Paris-Charles de Gaulle offers state-of-the-art facilities that guarantee optimal storage, even if some vaccines could be transported by planes in specific and autonomous containers or packaging allowing temperature to be kept at -70° or even -80° Celsius degree, for a period of up to ten days.

In addition to these measures, ACFA wishes to support the views expressed by IATA (International Air Transport Association) concerning a greater flexibility of air traffic rights so as to privilege the most direct routes between the production sites of future vaccines and France, or vice-versa from France to countries requiring supplies of vaccines or active substances.

On this occasion, Laurent Bernet, chairman of SYCAFF (Trade Union of Freight Airlines in France) and chairman of ACFA, stated: “our airlines and the entire Paris-Charles de Gaulle’s air cargo community have shown that they were perfectly able to manage the first period of the crisis, marked by the urgent transport of personal protective equipment. Today, we’re even more determined than ever to meet the challenge of this global vaccination campaign.”

Christophe Boucher, Executive Vice President Air France Cargo, said: “we are fully committed alongside ACFA and the entire Paris-Charles de Gaulle cargo community to meeting the unprecedented challenge of delivering the Covid-19 vaccines. On the strength of our 30 years’ experience  in transporting pharmaceutical products, we have demonstrated our teams’ expertise, and our agility in handling the specificities of these sensitive and priority goods. The quality of the dedicated cold chain infrastructure makes Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport a safe and leading logistics hub for the transport of pharmaceutical products by plane, perfectly adapted to this unprecedented operation.”

For Joël Glusman, CEO of TLF Overseas: “the freight forwarders and customs representatives specialized in customs clearance at Paris-Charles de Gaulle are ready to take up this new logistical challenge.  As certified professionals with a real know-how, both on operational and custom sides, and staffed for controlled management of pharmaceutical products, we will provide our support to the cargo community to meet the demands of our clients and public heath requirements.”

Philippe Legué, Interregional head of Customs for the Paris Airports, stated: “in coordination with all members of the airport community, the priority of the customs at Paris-Charles de Gaulle is to guarantee the safety and the fluidity of vaccine supplies. The customs services at Paris-Charles de Gaulle are organized and mobilized to handle day and night customs clearance, transit and transshipment of goods, and to check the compliance of vaccines that will be imported into the European market.The interconnection of customs information systems with those of other players in the logistics chain is a remarkable tool for planning in advance and screening their route through the airport.”

And Édouard Mathieu, Chief of development for Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport within Groupe ADP, concludes: “with its 300 hectares and 700,000 sq.m of cross-dock warehouse space giving direct access to the airside areas, the Cargo City at Paris-Charles de Gaulle is a considerable asset enabling all players in the cargo community and their shipper customers to reduce time between vaccine deliveries and their dispatch to the distribution network.”

About ACFA  

Air Cargo France Association (ACFA) has replaced the Inter-professional Freight Committee (CIF), which aimed to unite all the air freight players at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Launched in 2017 to give new impetus to the French air cargo sector, the ACFA encourages collaboration and exchanges between all operators in order to boost French airports, exposed to intense international competition.

Its main mission is to support projects aimed at increasing the attractiveness of national airports and more generally of the surrounding territories.        

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