Port of Huntsville Competes For Role In COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — While travelers may be staying away from airplanes, cargo remains a business that is soaring.

In fact DSV, a company that operates out of Port of Huntsville, just added a brand new flight.

Barbie Peek is the Director of Business Development Port of Huntsville and she says DSV is also looking to grow and expand.

“They just added a third flight to Luxembourg in addition to their other flights to Europe and to Asia. So they are growing with those new things,” says Peek.

On those flights are a number of products, including pharmaceutical products. In the future those products could include the COVID-19 vaccine.

“How the new COVID-19 vaccine is going to be distributed throughout the world and DSV being a partner with us, we have some infrastructure in place to help us,” says Peek.

DSV provides freight fording, airline, grounding, freight airline distribution services, and officials say it has helped put Huntsville International Airport on the map. They said DSV is in Huntsville partly because it is a less congested airport.

Peek says DSV’s set up at the airport is unique.

“DSV can book the product, they can fly the product, they ground handle the product and then they provide warehouse and distribution of the product,” she said.

Meaning they can do everything all in one place and without the disruption a congested airport would have.

“This is a very unique operation that has been established and been going on in Huntsville for over 30 years,” says Peek. “They are continuing to expand it and look at opportunities, and one of those opportunities is pharma and the potential of the new COVID vaccine.”

Huntsville International Airport also works with other partners such as TVA, The Huntsville Madison County Chamber, and more to make sure they are aware of what facilities are available at the airport.

There are three large temperature-controlled coolers at the Port of Huntsville, equaling a total of 26,000 square feet. These coolers can maintain 5 degrees Celsius and even lower.

The DSV facility is a one-stop shop, making it easy for pharmaceutical products to maintain temperature – something Port of Huntsville hopes gives them a leg up.

“We are reaching out to different entities, agencies and working with them to find out what are the specs for moving the vaccine, what are going to be the infrastructure needs,” says Peek. “We are trying to find this information out so that we make sure we have the infrastructure in place to support this.”

Because new data comes in so quickly, Peek says information gathering is one of the biggest challenges.

“Getting the specs on how to move the product and what degree and temperatures we are going to be moving the product in. So collectively as an industry everyone is working toward those same goals of trying to make sure we understand how to move the product and get it quickly to the market,” she says.

Time will tell what role Huntsville plays in the future of vaccine distribution. But the Port of Huntsville is doing everything it can to show it is up to the challenge.