Finding Flights to Deliver Vaccines
Bloomberg Businessweek|December 07, 2020
The pandemic has vastly reduced airlines’ capacity to haul freight
Christopher Jasper and William Wilkes, with Layan Odeh, Mary Schlangenstein, and Thomas Black

The coronavirus has left Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s passenger fleet flying at just 25% capacity. But in a set of cooled warehouses on the fringes of Frankfurt’s airport, a 20-member task force is hard at work figuring out how the carrier can manage the coming boom in a different part of its business: airlifting millions of doses of the vaccines meant to end the global pandemic.

Lufthansa, one of the world’s biggest cargo carriers, began planning in April in anticipation of the shots that AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and others are developing in record time. Now that the drugmakers are starting to apply for authorization, Lufthansa’s task force is rushing to devise ways to fit more of the crucial payload onto the airline’s 15 Boeing 777 and MD-11 freighters, along with hold space in its passenger jets. “The question is how we scale it up,” says Thorsten Braun, who leads Lufthansa’s part in the global effort.

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