Transporting the coronavirus vaccine worldwide would be the biggest challenge ever. It would require the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747s, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) told the BBC.
There is no vaccine for Covid-19 yet, but IATA is now working on a national airlift strategy for airlines, airports, public health organisations and drug companies.
The distribution programme assumes only one dose per person is needed.
"Safely delivering Covid-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won't happen without careful advance planning. And the time for that is now," said IATA's chief executive Alexandre de Juniac.
Although airlines' focus on carrying freight since the extreme decline in passenger flights, transporting vaccines are even more complex. Not all aircraft are ideal for transporting vaccines since they require a standard temperature range between 2 and 8C for drug delivery. Some vaccines may need freezing temperatures which would exclude more aircraft.
"We know the procedures well. What we need to do is scale them up to the magnitude that will be required," added Glyn Hughes, the industry body's head of cargo.
Flights to certain parts of the world, including some areas of South East Asia, will be critical as they lack vaccine-production capabilities, he added.
Distributing a vaccine across Africa would be "impossible" right now IATA says given the lack of cargo capacity, size of the region and the complexities of border crossings.
Transportation will need "almost military precision" and will require cool facilities across a network of locations where the vaccine will be stored.
About 140 vaccines are in early development, and around two dozen are now being tested on people in clinical trials.
One is being developed by the University of Oxford that is already in an advanced stage of testing.
IATA has urged governments to begin careful planning now to ensure they are fully prepared once vaccines are approved and available for distribution.
Along with making sure they are handled and transported at controlled temperatures, security is another issue.
"Vaccines will be highly valuable commodities. Arrangements must be in place to keep ensure that shipments remain secure from tampering and theft," added IATA.