Emirates is teaming up with Dubai Airports, DP World, and International Humanitarian City to turn Dubai into a hub for distributing COVID-19 vaccines. By joining forces and combining air routes, seaports, and logistics expertise, the aim is to get the COVID-19 vaccine out as far and wide as fast as possible.

Better yet, there’s going to be a particular focus on getting the vaccine out to developing countries where populations have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and pharmaceutical transport and logistics are challenging.

Emirates joins the Dubai Vaccines Logistics Alliance

Calling themselves the Dubai Vaccines Logistics Alliance, Emirates Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said;

“Each alliance partner brings to the table a specific and complementary set of strengths and capabilities in vaccine distribution, allowing us to build a 360-degree solution that harnesses the combined logistical and infrastructural advantages of Dubai as a hub.”

While getting the vaccine out to areas of need and developing countries might make you feel warm and fuzzy, there’s a hard commercial imperative under the spin.

The COVID-19 outbreak has slammed Emirates Airlines, Dubai’s Airports, and Dubai itself. Emirates reported a US$3.4 billion half-year loss in the six months to October 31 and is due to post a substantial full-year loss at the end of the current financial year. Dubai’s airports saw substantial drops in passenger and airline traffic throughout 2020 with consequent falls in income streams.

Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum is both Chairman of Dubai Airports and CEO of Emirates. The sooner the vaccine gets out, and people get inoculated, the sooner travel will rebound. Then the money starts heading back to Dubai and its many state-owned enterprises like Emirates.

“Once the pandemic is over, and the global inoculation program has kicked in at pace, then I see the restoration and a recapture of activity curves in all aspects of the global economy at pace, probably in the middle to back end of this year,” Emirates President Tim Clark told Reuters in January.

Emirates has long experience distributing temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.

In the interim, it’s useful for Dubai to grab a slice of the vaccination business pie whilst also doing some good in the world.

International Humanitarian City in Dubai says it is the world’s largest hub for humanitarian logistics. Nine UN agencies and around 85 NGOs work out of there. It predates the COVID-19 outbreak, and other Alliance members aim to utilize International Humanitarian City’s expertise in humanitarian logistics.

Meanwhile, Emirates’ dedicated cargo operation, SkyCargo, has extensive experience transporting temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.

“With our modern wide-body aircraft fleet, our network reaching more than 135 cities across six continents including major pharma hubs, and our expertise in handling pharma shipments, we are well placed to work with our partners in the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance to make sure that the COVID-19 vaccines are reaching every corner of the globe,” says SkyCargo’s Nabil Sultan.

Since December, Emirates has been transporting COVID-19 vaccinations and has 15,000 square meters of cool chain space for pharmaceuticals across its terminals in Dubai.

“Dubai’s central location means it is easily accessible to almost 80% of the world’s population within just four hours, making the decision to join forces and develop the world’s preeminent distribution hub a very strategic one,” says Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports.

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