The first FedEx Express flight with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine departs from Grand Rapids for Memphis

FedEx Express’ first flight (FDX 884) with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine departed Grand Rapids, MI Gerald Ford Airport (GRR) at 11 am local time today bound for the Memphis hub.

The flight is being operated with Airbus A300F4-605R N669FE (below).

GRR issued this statement (photos by FedEx):

The first cargo plane carrying Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use departed from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport at 11 a.m. today – the first of tens of thousands of shipments that will deliver the life-saving vaccine to locations around the nation and then the world.

After the FDA authorized the vaccine for emergency use, the first doses arrived via truck from Pfizer’s headquarters in Portage at 9:45 a.m. The mood was jubilant on the airfield as crews began loading the Airbus A300 in preparation for the one hour and 30-minute flight to Memphis, Tennessee.

Transportation plays a key role in distributing the vaccine, which must be kept at negative 94 Fahrenheit. A wide-body aircraft, the Airbus A300 can carry up to 105,000 pounds of cargo.

“This is a big day for West Michigan and a historic milestone for the world that marks the beginning of the end to the global pandemic,” said Torrance Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “The Ford Airport is honored to play a key role in ensuring the vaccine gets into the hands of healthcare professionals around the country.

“Our continuing investment in infrastructure has ensured we are able to meet the demands of the aggressive delivery schedule. We train and prepare for this all year long to ensure we are ready for whatever challenges come our way.”

The Ford Airport is the closest commercial airport to Pfizer’s Kalamazoo manufacturing operations with the infrastructure needed to support the transportation process. Ford Airport has a 10,000-foot runway, dedicated cargo facility, appropriate ground support and the capacity needed to stage and transport billions of doses of the vaccine.

Talks continue with four global carriers that have expressed interest in transporting the widely anticipated vaccine, which is seen as the beginning of the end of the global pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ford Airport has taken a number of steps to make its guest experience as safe and comfortable as possible through its Fly Safe. Fly Ford. campaign. It also recently announced it is serving as a COVID-19 drive-up test site for guests and the community.

Previously GRR issued this statement:

As the Food & Drug Administration gives the green light to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport is prepared to serve as a national and international gateway for distribution.

The Ford Airport is the closest airport to Pfizer’s Kalamazoo manufacturing operations with the infrastructure needed to support the transportation process. Ford Airport has a 10,000-foot runway, dedicated cargo facility, appropriate ground support and the capacity needed to stage and transport billions of doses of the vaccine, which must be kept at negative 94 Fahrenheit.

Airport officials have been in talks with four global carriers that have expressed interest in transporting the widely anticipated vaccine, which is seen as the beginning of the end of the global pandemic.

“We’re here, we’re ready to help and we’re eager to get to work,” said Torrance Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “We have invested in the infrastructure needed to accommodate the wide-body aircraft that will be used to transport the vaccine – and we have the team in place to handle the aggressive delivery schedule.

“Ford Airport is honored to be a key part of the distribution chain for Pfizer’s life-saving vaccine. We often say our Airport is the gateway to the world – this gives us the opportunity to underscore that in an exceptionally meaningful way.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ford Airport has taken a number of steps to make its guest experience as safe and comfortable as possible through its Fly Safe. Fly Ford. campaign. It also recently announced it will serve as a COVID-19 drive-up test site for guests and the community.