immigration Indira Gandhi Airport
The immigration and arrival hall at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Indian airports and airlines have geared up to handle the distribution of temperature-sensitive vaccines in the country. Image Credit: Agency

New Delhi: As some of the coronavirus vaccine trials are in their final stages, Indian airports and airlines have geared up to handle the distribution of temperature-sensitive vaccines in the country.

New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and GMR Hyderabad airport’s cargo are set to play a pivotal role in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as they are equipped with time and temperature-sensitive distribution system.

“Delhi Airport has two cargo terminals with world-class infrastructure that provides GDP (good distribution practices)-certified temperature-controlled facility for handling temperature-sensitive cargo," a Delhi International Airport Limited spokesperson said. "With the capacity to handle over 150,000 MT per annum, this facility has  temperature-controlled zones with separate cool chambers ranging from +25 to -20 degree celsius, which would be extremely conducive for the distribution of vaccines.

“There are 'Cool Dollies' at the airside that ensure unbroken cool chain during temperature-sensitive cargo movement between terminal and aircraft. The terminals have separate gates dedicated for fast movement of vehicles carrying vaccines in and out of the airport.”

The emphasis has been laid on quick and efficient transportation and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines whenever they are available.

Geared up

GMR Hyderabad airport said the terminal is equipped with various temperatures ranging from -20 to +25 degree Celsius with equipment and cool containers to cater to product-specific requirements.

“GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC) boasts of India’s first Pharma Zone with GDP-certified temperature-controlled facility for handling temperature-sensitive cargo," it said in a statement. "The freighter parking stands are just 50 metres away from the terminal, thereby minimizing the ramp exposure timing and ensuring quick turnaround of the aircraft.

“We recently launched the latest Cool Dollies - which is a mobile refrigeration unit for airside transportation - designed to eliminate any temperature excursions and to maintain unbroken cool chain. The GHAC also boasts of one of India’s largest storage facility for cool containers.”

All systems in place

An official of SpiceJet said the airline is fully prepared and ready to handle the COVID-19 vaccine. The  spokesperson said the airline has extensive experience in the past and already carries blood samples, which require a temperature-controlled environment.

“Today we have the facility of both our aircraft and our ground support vehicles," an airline spokesperson said. "We have sufficient capacity to cater to the rise in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine shipments and prepared the capacity keeping in mind the future. We have been transporting vaccine shipments to various international as well as domestic destinations."

“SpiceXpress offers cargo shipment with a controlled ambient temperature between +25 degrees C to freezing -40 degrees Celsius. The service is suitable for sensitive drugs, vaccines and blood samples and with the extra protection of thermal blankets in the world-class active RKN and RAP containers.”