Air Transport International, the contract air cargo carrier that operates aircraft for customers such as Amazon Air and DHL Express, has received a $7.7 million order for transportation services in support of the national vaccine campaign known as Operation Warp Speed.
ATI will transport kitting materials — alcohol swabs, syringes, needles, saline solution, personal protective equipment — to multiple destinations through early March, Defense officials said in response to FreightWaves’ queries.
The company, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group (NASDQ: ATSG), was assigned the task under an existing contract with U.S. Transportation Command, according to a Defense Department contract announcement this month.
The mini-contract refers to international cargo transport and door-to-door service, which suggests ATI is flying exports of supplies from overseas locations to U.S. airports and trucking them to distribution centers managed by vaccine makers and the government’s third-party logistics provider, McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK)
Under the existing distribution strategy, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is shipping vaccines directly to dosing sites while UPS (NYSE: UPS) separately delivers kits put together by McKesson. For Moderna, McKesson packs the vaccines and supplies for administering them together in the same box.
Officials at ATSG, based in Wilmington, Ohio, were unable to provide further details when contacted.
The task order bears similarities to Project Airbridge earlier this year in which the federal government contracted commercial charter operators to expedite the import of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies urgently needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Air Transport International participates in the Department of Defense’s Civil Reserve Air Fleet. Under the program, commercial carriers commit to provide airlift during war and other national emergencies in exchange for peacetime charter business that augments the military’s own airlift capacity for personnel and cargo.
ATSG and ATI have benefitted from a strong cargo market this year, with adjusted corporate earnings up 48% in the third quarter.