Logistics Arm of Alibaba, Ethiopian Partner to Launch Cold Chain Air Freight for Vaccine Transportation


Addis Ababa December 3/2020 (ENA) The logistics arms of Alibaba Group Holdings Limited, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, announced today that it is partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to launch a special cold chain air freight for the transportation of temperature-controlled medicines from Shenzhen Airport in China. 

Temperature-controlled medicines will be distributed twice a week from Shenzhen to Africa and to the rest of the world via Dubai and Addis Ababa.

This is China’s first cross-border medical cold chain route to be operated regularly and is certified to transport temperature-controlled medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines, according to  a statement by Cainiao Smart Logistics Network.  

During air freight, the entire cold chain cabin is equipped with a temperature control system that monitors the cabin’s temperature in real-time.

As the fourth airport in Mainland China that obtained International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics, Shenzhen Airport is also well-equipped to handle biotechnology products.

The cargo terminal in Ethiopia is outfitted with compartmentalized cold storage facilities with temperature between -23℃ to 25℃. It occupies an area of 54,000 square metres, with dedicated cool dollies and pharma team, as well as real-time temperature monitoring system to ensure a safe and seamless cold chain logistics for handling temperature sensitive healthcare products, the press release of the company stated.

General Manager of Cainiao International Supply Chain James Zhao said “Cainiao’s global logistics network spans over 200 countries and regions, providing end-to-end integrated logistics services, including digital customs clearance capabilities.”.

According to him, the launch of the cold chain air freight has further bolstered the global logistics capabilities of the companies, and allows them to offer a one-stop solution for the global distribution of medical products such as the Covid-19 vaccines.

Ethiopian Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said, “Ethiopian Airlines will repeat its remarkable and globally recognized success in leading the fast delivery of PPEs few months ago with similar delivery speed, professional handling and maintaining the cold chain during the forthcoming global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. In anticipation of the Covid-19 vaccine release, we will be at the forefront to further discharge our responsibility in the distribution of the vaccine across the globe.”

Cainiao’s launch of the “Green Channel” Initiative this year to fight the pandemic has helped in the distribution of 250 million pieces of PPEs, including COVID-19 test kits, to medical suppliers in over 150 countries and regions.

The press release noted that Cainiao, in collaboration with its partners, has also helped to transport medical relief items for international organizations during the pandemic outbreak.