Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are loaded onto a truck
for shipping at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing
plant in Portage, Michigan on Sunday, December 13, 2020.
Here are some fast
Right now ten FedEx B777 freighters
are equipped with special rails for military pallets.
The movement for a second dose of vaccine
to combat the COVID-19 pandemic will go through the first quarter
Syringes are being flown in from China.
Rubber gloves from Vietnam.
“The vaccine is liquid gold and
everybody in the world wants it at once,” declared Bill Boesch,
President of Council of Logistics Research.
Mr. Boesch, as has been the case for
most of his illustrious career, is once again smack dab in the middle
of the action in air cargo, for what is right now the biggest story
in the world.
A Needed Shot in the Arm
Getting a COVID-19 shot (or two) into
every arm in the world is Bill’s focus now, and to hear him
tell it, until this mission is accomplished, there will be no let
“There are legions of dedicated
and purpose-driven people up and down the line doing fabulous work
right now in an all-out effort to deliver the antidote.
“It’s humbling to be part
of this great effort,” Bill Boesch said.
Expertise Par Excellence
Bill Boesch is the air cargo voice
that has been advising Operation Warp Speed; beginning this week,
shipments of the long hoped and prayed for vaccine will soon be
moving all over the world.
We also know that Bill is accepting
no money for his effort as he brings his lifetime of logistics knowledge
to an around the clock effort to deliver an antidote to thwart a
pandemic that has threatened the daily life of people all over the
“Nothing is more important right
now,” Bill said softly.
“It’s all hands-on-deck,
and our effort here is total, there is no other way,” he said.
Most Important Air Cargo Movement
“Delivering a solution for the
deadly pandemic is the biggest logistics project since World War
II, and in fact much bigger than The Berlin Airlift that supplied
an entire blockaded city of two million during 1948-49,” Mr.
Genuine Air Cargo Pioneer
Bill Boesch is an air cargo pioneer
who has served in many leadership roles during his nearly fifty
years, including top cargo positions at American Airlines, Pan American,
DHL and Seaboard World Airways Cargo.
Mr. Boesch also spent time with Envirotainer,
an early manufacturer of a temperature-controlled air container
used to ship large amounts of temperature-sensitive, protein-based
vaccines and pharmaceuticals.
box within a box within a box with a dry ice chaser!
In the picture are people working
16 hours a day to deliver the vaccine that doctors in medical
centers everywhere will receive. Each bigger box for the vaccine
in dry ice has six smaller boxes that look like a small pizza.
Each pizza box contains 970 vials. Each vial has five shots.
In Portage, Michigan Christmas came early, as a big FedEx
trailer gets ready to accept first shipments of long-awaited
relief from COVID-19.
Delivering the Vaccine 24/7
“Everybody is working around
the clock to ensure fast reliable delivery of the life- saving serum
worldwide with all the supply and instructional material that goes
with it,” he said.
“But despite our massive effort,
what is pointedly missing in the U.S. is a scheduled all-cargo international
airline able to take on and compete against the non-U.S. scheduled
“Long gone are Seaboard World
Airlines, Flying Tigers, all-cargo airlines with global service.
“Additionally American Airlines
and Northwest Orient (now Delta) that once flew freighters no longer
serve that market.
“In fact, today no U.S. passenger
carrier is flying freighters although many of the foreign airlines
the U.S. flags compete against operate vast fleets of these aircraft.
“But in this environment with
everyone scrambling to secure lift and as the world gets to know
more about air cargo, this time could be recalled as the point where
things changed and U.S. scheduled cargo airlines returned and the
big passenger carriers view cargo as a primary product.”
Timing may be Right
Bill Boesch, who has been pushing
this all-cargo concept for years, and has proved how freighters
can support the profitability of the passenger business, declared
“timing seems right for scheduled all-cargo service return
to the U.S. with the growth in the commercial market.
“Today the headline-making cargo-in-cabin
(CIC) with packages riding in passenger seats is a concept I proposed
twenty-five years ago whilst serving as President Cargo at American
Looking into CRAF
“The Department of Defense
(DOD) maintains the ability through its Civil Reserve Air Fleet
(CRAF) program to use commercial freighters in times of conflict
“CRAF depends primarily on the
integrators’ and non-schedule U.S. airlines’ freighters
and charter carriers to accomplish these missions,” Bill said.
COVID & Christmas Rush
In the case of the COVID-19 movements
right now, UPS and FedEx during Christmastide 2020 are also heavily
engaged in their peak season.
“From a business point of view,
both of these resources are shifting more and more to long term
aircraft leases to protect their profit structure, especially with
the risk of increased labor costs triggered by the union contracts
in the U.S.
“Coupled with that is an increase
in leasing large freighter aircraft, also driven by Amazon’s
entry into the market and the military pallet interoperability issues
of the FedEx B777 freighters.
“So as we move along and the
need to ship even heavier volumes of COVID-19 vaccines and other
consignments increases, there may also develop a problem with the
ability of DOD getting sufficient CRAF cargo lift.”
Not Major DOD Players
“Important to point out that
FedEx and UPS integrators and Amazon are currently not major contributors
supporting peace-time movement of DOD cargo.”
Whilst making the case for a more
robust U.S. commercial airline cargo fleet, Bill also said another
reason that civilian freighters make sense and can always be useful
and working is that the DOD needs to preserve the organic life of
its own military freighter fleet.
“The case for a measured induction
of a lower cost U.S. scheduled all-cargo aircraft fleet by AA, UAL
and DL could be beneficial in an expanded variety of situations.
There certainly are enough pilots now to put those type of aircraft
into service, unlike during even the recent past when getting enough
crews to push back was an issue.”
Time To Step Up
“Air cargo in December 2020,”
Bill Boesch declared, “is poised to grow to record levels
in both public perception and also should be increasingly recognized
by the airlines as a prime moral product, having done its part to
supplant the revenue stream of many passenger carriers without a
freighter division in an otherwise year-long shut down of the global
Complacency is the Enemy
“The industry cannot afford
to be complacent and must take an active part in developing 21st
century strategies that insure long term profitability rather than
focusing on market share.
“Carriers – individually
and through industry groups – need to align their tactical
plans to achieve the strategic plan for consistent industry profitability
Leadership and Cooperation Needed
“These are the times when air
cargo and its various organizations need to speak with one voice.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the
vaccine airlift of 2020 will make history and friends for air cargo.
“We are the key from the ground
up to local health care worldwide in getting the remedy delivered
as fast as the pharmaceutical companies can provide it.
“What we do with a great opportunity
to advance this industry is rightfully for the moment on the back
burner in the rush to deliver the solution.
“But let’s see some dreamers
and doers at IATA, FIATA, TIACA and the extended global air transportation
media get together to put schedule freighter air cargo up where
it belongs,” Bill Boesch concluded.