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PAL conducts vaccine transport simulations
In an interview on PTV-4 yesterday, PAL president and CEO Gilbert Santa Maria said their aircraft are properly equipped to carry the vaccines on long-haul flights and distribute them to different airports in the country.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File

PAL conducts vaccine transport simulations

Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is doing simulation exercises in preparation for its transport of COVID-19 vaccines across continents and their delivery to different parts of the country.

In an interview on PTV-4 yesterday, PAL president and CEO Gilbert Santa Maria said their aircraft are properly equipped to carry the vaccines on long-haul flights and distribute them to different airports in the country.

“PAL has been actively participating in coordination meetings spearheaded by the National Task Force on Vaccine rollout. These meetings have given the PAL team the opportunity to discuss how the flag carrier plans to carry out the transport of vaccines from points of origin to Philippine airports and how it plans to carry out the distribution phase within the archipelago,” Santa Maria said.

“The aviation industry and the cold chain logistics industry are critical partners in fulfilling this so-called ‘mission of the century’,” he said.

He stressed that PAL is the only local airline that can bring the vaccines from Europe and the United States in large amounts.

“We can carry these (vaccines) from the continental location to whatever airport in the Philippines that is most suitable,” the PAL official said.

“We can fly from Spain to Cebu to carry Moderna vaccines direct to the Visayas. We can fly from Spain direct to Davao to bring the Moderna vaccines there. If it’s Astra Zenica sourced out of Belgium, we can do the same. That’s our capability. We are the only airline in the Philippines with the ultra-long-haul, wide-body aircraft,” he pointed out.

He said PAL is capable of taking whatever vaccine manufacturers would ship directly to Manila. “It will be broken down in bulk by the shipper, put in cold storage and then sent around the country in a timely manner,” he said.

“We have multiple options for aircraft. We can take the medium wide-body, the A330s. We can take our narrow body A320/A321s,” he explained.

He added that PAL may even utilize its turboprop aircraft like the Dash8 to ferry vaccine cargo from Manila to secondary airports.

“We are the only company that has the Dash8 and why does that matter? Because they fly as fast as jets. We can take the cargo from Manila to a secondary airport or to an island-destination that has an airport or fly to an airport and from there, fly out using smaller aircraft,” he said.

“We’re ready to do that. We’re planning for it. The PAL team has been part of the cold chain logistics team organized by Secretary Galvez on the distribution of vaccines,” Santa Maria added.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is prepared to receive shipments of vaccines and has put in place measures to ensure that no fake vaccines or any other drugs or medical supplies get through.

BOC commissioner Rey Leonardo has instructed customs NAIA district collector Mimel Talusan to ensure enough personnel are deployed to facilitate the entry of the vaccines.

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