Several airlines have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to support its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative.

Etihad Cargo has signed a five-year MoU with UNICEF, under which it will aid the worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines and medical devices, managing all requirements through its dedicated COVID-19 workforce. It will collaborate with UNICEF’s global freight forwarder network to offer services including high loading priority for vaccines and essential humanitarian supplies, shipment security and controlled cool chain monitoring. Etihad Cargo’s initial commitment will centre on helping maintain UNICEF’s regular immunisation programmes for the world’s most vulnerable children.

Martin Drew, Senior Vice President Sales and Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “With extensive experience and expertise in safe and efficient pharmaceutical logistics, Etihad Cargo will leverage its IATA CEIV-certified PharmaLife specialised pharmaceutical and healthcare product for the transportation of pharmaceuticals under temperature control which, under the membership of Abu Dhabi’s The HOPE Consortium, is already offering a complete supply chain solution to aid global COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”

The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative brings together global airlines that cover routes to more than 100 countries, in support of the COVAX Facility – a global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The initiative will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises over the longer term.

Air France KLM Martinair Cargo announced that it would also be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with UNICEF, with whom it shares a long history of vaccine transportation, as part of the ‘Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative’. GertJan Roelands, SVP Sales & Distribution Air France KLM Martinair Cargo: “We’re very pleased to be formalising our partnership with UNICEF by signing a Memorandum of Understanding. We’ve been working together for a long time and are confidently looking forward to participating in this Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative. Our extensive global freight network, expertise, dedicated people and services will play an important role in ensuring the successful shipment of Covid-19 vaccines with the highest priority and under the required strict conditions.”

IAG Cargo also signed an agreement with UNICEF to support its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative and the COVAX facility. The initiative will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises in the longer term. Commented John Cheetham, Chief Commercial Officer at IAG Cargo: “We are incredibly proud to be able to support UNICEF in its work and to continue to play our part in this incredible global effort."