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Ensuring a Reliable Cold Chain During a Pandemic

When the pandemic began in 2020, it heavily affected everyone around the world. Global supply chains were hit hard, and stakeholders experienced severe disruptions; air cargo faced an unprecedented situation, and, with the breakdown of passenger flights, capacities became very limited, while the demand for transports recovered quickly. In turn, global industry and trade had to adapt, and the delivery of important pharmaceuticals had to be ensured throughout.

When global air traffic basically collapsed overnight in 2020, air cargo was confronted with a serious problem. Not only were capacities heavily limited, stakeholders along the supply chain also lacked the reliability and planability of regular operations. Usually, big parts of global air freight are transported in the belly of normal passenger planes. Accordingly, their schedules and capacities are an essential part of global cold chain transports as well. When most passenger routes were cancelled or heavily limited, cargo-only operations were not able to cover the full demand. As a result, deliveries often required significantly more time because the only routes available were longer. In some cases, cargo even became temporarily stuck due to a lack of capacity.

After a short period of uncertainty, airlines and forwarders began to adapt. The most visible new solution was the so-called ‘preighters’ – passenger planes, which were modified to transport more cargo by removing the seats. Furthermore, the number of charter flights drastically increased. This provided more capacity, but it was still not enough to achieve the previous regularity and frequency of passenger flights.

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Andreas Seitz has been Managing Director of DoKaSch Temperature Solutions GmbH since the company’s foundation in 2013. After studying aircraft engineering in Munich, Andreas started his career in 1991 at Lufthansa. He has held various management positions in the Lufthansa Group, including Lufthansa Technik in Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany, and most recently as Director Operations at Jettainer.
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