Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of the Etihad Aviation Group, has strengthened its ability to transport COVID-19 vaccines around the world after receiving UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) approval to expand dry ice carrying capabilities across its Boeing Dreamliner and Boeing 777 fleet.

The GCAA approval ensures the UAE national carrier’s main Boeing fleet can now carry up to five times more dry ice per flight, enabling it to provide enhanced frozen and deep-frozen conditions required for various vaccine types, including the Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik vaccines which currently need to be stored between -70°C to -18°C.

“Securing GCAA approval for our dry ice carrying capabilities is an important step forward for Etihad Cargo. Not only does it heighten the carrier’s credibility in assuring product integrity, it further elevates the enabling role the airline is playing in the UAE and Abu Dhabi’s efforts to provide a greater number of vaccines across Etihad’s network,” said Andre Blech, Director Global Cargo Operations, Etihad Aviation Group.

Air transportation of dry ice – the solid form of carbon dioxide – is strictly controlled under the applicable dangerous goods regulations as it becomes CO2 gas upon evaporation.

“Etihad Cargo will ensure optimum safety of its expanded carrying capabilities by adhering to all regulatory requirements, including package compliant protocols and mandatory training,” added Blech.

An acknowledged leader in the air transportation of pharmaceuticals, Etihad Cargo is the first Middle Eastern carrier to gain IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics and is a key component of Abu Dhabi’s complete HOPE Consortium supply chain solution to facilitate vaccine availability to Abu Dhabi and the world.

As part of the HOPE Consortium, which is spearheaded and regulated by the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Etihad Cargo uses its extensive intercontinental network and fleet as well as charter flights to distribute vaccines worldwide. The carrier is serving global demand for swift and secure COVID-19 vaccine shipments by leveraging its outstanding pharmaceutical logistics expertise and specialised pharma and healthcare service PharmaLife, which is available at 54 stations across the Etihad network.