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Kenya Airways Prepares Pharma Cargo Facility For Fight Against COVID-19

A Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamlliner resting under the JFK Airport air traffic control tower for the first time. (Photo: Tom Pallini)

Kenya Airways (KQ), through its cargo arm KQ Cargo, has unveiled its ultra-modern pharma facility at its main hub in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

The Kenya Cargo team is preparing for this critical logistical role in transporting the coronavirus vaccine once approved with the facility having the capabilities to further meet the demand of pharmaceutical products and medical shipments around the globe, reports CGTN Africa.

Kenya Airways’ cargo director, Dick Murianki, said, “KQ Cargo has been laying the groundwork and working closely with pharmaceutical and medical customers to be ready to safely and effectively support their vaccines transportation needs to move efficiently once the vaccine is approved by the regulators.”

“The investment in the ultra-modern pharma facility, though coinciding with COVID-19 pandemic, is to further meet the demand of pharmaceutical products globally in preparation for the big task of transporting medicines, vaccines, blood samples and temperature-sensitive cargo by having an end-to-end cold chain logistics solutions,” continued Murianki.

While the situation will be unique, the task may not be new to Kenya Airways, as the airline’s cargo operation has been shipping life-saving medicine since the beginning of the pandemic. The national carrier has transported about 6,000 tons of much-needed medical equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits and pharmaceuticals to help battle the coronavirus.

Many vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, need special handling to keep a consistently cold temperature throughout their journey. Vaccine shipments can be sent in “active containers” with built-in temperature controls that regulate and monitor shipments during transport or “passive containers” that are cooled with cold packs or dry ice in an enclosed system designed to keep the product cold for the life of its journey.

KQ has also linked up with global experts in cold chain logistics in readiness to offer the active and passive packaging with dedicated equipment to perform seamless cold chain operations.

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi has long been a distribution and logistics hub in Africa and was rated as the second-fastest-growing airport in the world for cargo by ACI in 2019.

Kenya Airways cargo now goes head to head with its closest rival, Ethiopian Airlines, which through Ethiopian Cargo, launched its state-of-the-art Pharma Wing back in June.

The state-of-the-art Pharma Wing of Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services is housed within the largest trans-shipment terminal in Africa and has been central to the airline’s effective handling and shipping of medical supplies across Africa and beyond.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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