Virgin Atlantic has unveiled new transportation capabilities to demonstrate its ability to distribute Covid-19 vaccines across its network.

The carrier increased its focus on its cargo business early in the pandemic to offset the shutdown of passenger flights, including the transportation of more than four million tonnes of medical equipment, supplies and PPE between Shanghai and Heathrow.

The airline said its new Pharma Secure service would “enhance its well-established pharmaceutical transport offering” and “ensure the safety and security of all urgent, valuable and vulnerable pharmaceutical and life sciences shipments”.

The service will include a 24/7 support team, live status updates, periodical integrity checks, temperature-controlled facilities and a dedicated booking team.

Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said: “This new service takes our already well-established pharmaceutical offering to the next level. We want to offer our customers peace of mind so they can book confidently with us, knowing their precious cargo will arrive safely, securely and on time.

“We look forward to playing a part in supporting the Covid-19 recovery by transporting crucial vaccines and pharmaceutical products to the UK and around the world on our global network, ensuring swift access to vaccines for the public as they become available.”

Kennedy added: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Virgin Atlantic Cargo has played a vital role keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential goods around the world. They are agile and continue to innovate, bringing in new services such as Pharma Secure to respond to customer demand.

“It is a testament to the hard work of our teams that we have completely re-engineered our cargo business into a successful freight-only operation offering cargo-only services and charters for the first time in our history, enabling businesses to re-establish trade routes and transport critical supplies around the world.”