The 'biggest product launch in history' - potential Covid vaccines lead to rising air freight prices

Fri 23 Oct 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

air freight

Supply chains are getting ready to make the most of the commercial opportunities presented by emerging Covid-19 vaccines, if rising air freight prices are to be believed.

Rumours of a possible vaccine from China are already causing an increase in chartered air freight rates, according to Loadstar.

Charter rush

Chaminda Gunasekera, a senior director of airfreight at Seko Logistics, has claimed that the distribution of the vaccine presents significant opportunities for logistics companies.

“The much anticipated Covid-19 vaccine supply chain has started,” he said. “There is speculation in the market of 60 charters being booked out of Tianjin to the US and many more from Beijing and Tianjin to the Middle East". 

'Biggest product launch'

Around the world, vaccines - including one being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca which is now entering phase 3 trials - are increasingly being shown to work.

Gunasekera said some charter operators were cancelling existing contracts with clients to prepare to cash in on what has been described as “the biggest product launch in history”. 

Price hike

Prices jumped to over HK$850,000 (£84,000) a flight to the US this week, according to Loadstar, leading Gunasekera to predict commercial demand could be surpassed by the need from governments to provide vaccines.

However, other commentators said that local production would dampen some of the supply chain issues.

Eric Ten Kate, VP of life sciences at Agility, said, “Developers are signing deals in key markets with contract manufacturers, which would eliminate the need for air bridges.”