American Cargo operations conducting trial flights from Miami to South America

©American Airlines' cargo team is preparing for its critical role in transporting the COVID-19 vaccine

The American Airlines Cargo team is preparing for its critical role in transporting the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine once approved. In mid-November, American’s cargo operation began conducting trial flights in conjunction with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, from Miami to South America on its Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The trial flights simulate the conditions required for the COVID-19 vaccine to stress test the thermal packaging and operational handling process that will ultimately ensure it remains stable as it moves across the globe.

While the situation will be unique, the task is not new to American — the airline’s cargo operation has been shipping life-saving medicine for more than eight decades. Since the beginning of the pandemic, American has been transporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits and pharmaceuticals to help battle the coronavirus. As a recognized expert in cold chain logistics, American has been involved in transporting components for Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials, including quickly and safely carrying test vaccines and specimens to research facilities around the world.

Many vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, need special handling to keep a consistently cold temperature throughout their journey. American has an established network of facilities and team members who specialize in temperature-critical shipments and are familiar with handling the variety of requirements that different pharmaceuticals may need.

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