Emirates Grows Capacity At Dubai Vaccine Cargo Center


Emirates SkyCargo is expanding its vaccine handling capabilities at its Dubai distribution hub. The expansion will provide an additional 2600 square meters of temperature-controlled floorspace. The extra floor space can accommodate up to 90 million COVID-19 doses, significantly boosting Emirates’ distribution capabilities.

Emirates SkyCargo is busy flying COVID-19 vaccines around the world via its Dubai hub. Photo: Emirates

Emirates anticipates increased demand for vaccine transportation

Since the onset of the COVID-19 fuelled travel downturn, Emirates has worked hard to turn Dubai into a key distribution hub for goods. Harnessing its worldwide network, Emirates can readily deploy its jets across its many current and former routes.

When the first COVID-19 vaccines became available, Emirates wanted to play a role in the distribution process. Since then, Emirates SkyCargo says it has transported over 75 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on more than 250 flights to over 60 destinations.

“We are always looking ahead,” says Emirates SkyCargo executive Nabil Sultan. “We anticipate that there will be an increase in demand to transport vaccines to developing nations during the second half of the year. Already, we have seen a ramping up of COVID-19 vaccine volumes that were transported over the last few weeks in line with increased manufacturing.”

Emirates had a distribution facility certified to handle temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical cargo before the COVID-19 outbreak. The global pharmaceutical logistics market was worth US$73.3 billion in 2020. That’s a big pie and airlines such as Emirates want a taste.  But well before COVID-19, Emirates had built a sizeable business flying pharmaceuticals around the globe via its Dubai hub. Transporting COVID-19 vaccines is an extension of an existing business for Emirates SkyCargo.

Emirates COVID-19 distribution facility in Dubai. Photo: Emirates SkyCargo

Enough vaccines to cover entire countries

The expansion in Dubai will allow for an extra 94 cool room pallet positions. Together, those pallets will contain enough vaccinations to cover entire countries.

“Emirates SkyCargo is proud to have flown over 350 tonnes of COVID-19 vaccines around the world,” says Mr Sultan. “The last six months have been a valuable and mutual learning experience for Emirates SkyCargo and as well for pharmaceutical manufacturers and our logistics partners.

“We have been able to apply these learnings to make the process of vaccine transportation faster and more efficient, providing a valuable boost to the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine transportation, as well as for other temperature-sensitive pharma products in the future.”

The additional 2600 square meters will boost Emirates SkyCargo’s current cool-chain COVID-19 dedicated floor space in Dubai by over 10%. The COVID-19 vaccines may hog the headlines. However, Emirates is quick to point out that they’ve also transported thousands of tonnes of other essential commodities. This includes PPE, pharmaceuticals, and other related supplies since the onset of the travel downturn.

Emirates SkyCargo is helping distribute COVID-19 vaccines around the world. Photo: Emirates

A focus on developing countries

Earlier this year, as the first COVID-19 vaccines began to be distributed, Emirates SkyCargo teamed up with logistics giant DP World, International Humanitarian City, and Dubai Airports to form the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance. The alliance is designed to harness synergies and the strengths of each partner to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible. High on the agenda was getting the vaccine into developing nations.

Many of those nations have now received vaccines via Emirates SkyCargo flights. The same countries have also received other vital time-sensitive cargo on the flights.

With the expansion of the temperature-controlled COVID-19 distribution hub in Dubai, Emirates SkyCargo expects to fly more pharmaceutical cargo than ever. Nabil Sultan notes;

“We expect to reach the 100 million doses milestone well before the end of June.”