PHL AirAsia secures permit to transport COVID-19 vaccines

BW FILE PHOTO

LOW-COST carrier Philippines AirAsia, Inc. announced on Monday that it had received government approval to transport coronavirus vaccines packed in dry ice.

In an e-mailed statement, Philippines AirAsia said the regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) “came just in time for the expected arrival of the bulk of vaccines from Sinovac BioTech, Gamaleya Institute and Pfizer-BioNTech in the coming weeks and months.”

“The country is expecting the delivery of 1,000,000 doses of CoronaVac, 480,000 doses of Sputnik V, 195,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines and 20,000 doses of Gamaleya towards the end of April while Moderna is slated to begin the delivery of 13,000,000 vaccine doses starting June and July 2021,” the company said, citing the National Task Force against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The company said it is currently in discussions with different local government units to map out the deliveries.

Only the flag carrier Philippine Airlines and the budget carrier Cebu Pacific had been certified as dangerous goods carriers prior to CAAP’s approval of Philippines AirAsia’s application for authorization to transport COVID-19 vaccines.

Cebu Pacific announced on April 19 the delivery of a total of 41,480 vaccine doses to Tuguegarao and Palawan.

It has delivered approximately 264,000 doses across Visayas and Mindanao and some parts of Luzon.

On April 22, Philippine Airlines transported another 500,000 vaccine doses from Beijing to Manila.

“This latest batch of 500,000 government-purchased vaccine doses brings to 2.4 million the total number of doses flown into the country by the national flag carrier,” Philippine Airlines said in a statement. — Arjay L. Balinbin