A community approach in maintaining Pharma Shipments

Pharma.Aero is an independent membership driven association comprised of members from airport communities, pharmaceutical shippers and cargo logistics stakeholders


In recent years, the demand for reliable end-to-end transport for pharmaceutical cargo has seen a tremendous rise, bringing to light the lack of reliability and data sharing, that affects the entire supply chain. As with every growing industry, the need for improvements and quality checks becomes ever more apparent with the growing demand. The solution: Pharma.Aero.


Pharma.Aero is an independent membership driven association comprised of members from airport communities, pharmaceutical shippers and other cargo logistics stakeholders from around the world.


In 2016, Brussels Airport (BRU) and Miami International Airport (MIA), the first and second International Air Transport Association (IATA) designated pharma hub airports in the world, took on the initiative to create Pharma.Aero – an organisation that would be focused on improving pharma handling and quality in the air cargo industry worldwide.


The worldwide Pharma.Aero platform will enable its members – consisting of airport communities, airline carriers, pharma shippers, and other pharma logistics stakeholders, to foster strong collaboration amongst themselves. By jointly working on innovative regional initiatives, with an emphasis on the IATA CEIV Program, airports and their operators will achieve excellence in reliable end to end transportation for the pharma shippers and patients.


The organisation will bring its visions to life by fostering route certification and development of pharmaceutical trade lanes. Therefore, members of the organisation will be able to share expertise, market knowledge and implement best practices within the entire supply chain (from end-to-end). Furthermore, the association will help organise events, projects, workshops, as well as local and regional pharma shipper forums, that connect CEIV airport communities to the end customers: pharma manufacturers.


Through the collaboration that will be formed among all pharma stakeholders, it is Pharma.Aero’s vision to achieve excellence in reliable end to end transportation, from the pharma shippers to the patients.


Early Adopters

At the launch of the initiative which was held in Paris, Nathan De Valck, Cargo Product Development manager at Brussels Airport and Chairman of Pharma.Aero reiterated, “with the vision to achieve a reliable end-to-end air transport for pharmaceutical cargo, Pharma.Aero will focus on pharmaceutical shippers and all industry stakeholders who embrace the IATA CEIV program. Members of the organisation will foster route certification/development of pharmaceutical trade lanes, implementation of best practices and sharing of market knowledge and expertise”.


Launching Members of Pharma.Aero attending at the Media Release at TIACA ACF Paris 2016.


Alongside the founding members, other key stakeholders joined the organisation almost immediately. Some of these early adopters include Singapore Changi Airport, Sharjah International Airport and Mumbai International Airport – being the first airport in Asia, the first airport in the Middle East, and the first airport in India, respectively, to become strategic members of Pharma.Aero.


With all three airports registering a significant year-on-year growth in pharma handling and being the first within their specific regions to embark on a community approach for the IATA CEIV Pharma certification, they all share the common goal of wanting to lead by example and be a preferred gateway handling pharmaceuticals in a better way.


Speaking at the launch, Lim Ching Kiat, Managing Director, Air Hub Development, Changi Airport Group, said, “Pharmaceuticals is among our fastest growing cargo segments, registering a 19% year-on- year growth in the first nine months of 2016. We are also the first airport in Asia to embark on a community approach for IATA CEIV Pharma. With Changi Airport’s strong connectivity and facilities, Singapore is well-positioned to be the preferred gateway for pharma cargo in Asia. Our participation in Pharma.Aero will further strengthen our capabilities to handle pharma cargo and enhance the pharma supply chain in Singapore.”


Since its launch, the organisation now comprises of 16 members.


The Pharma Supply Chain

Having direct contact with pharmaceutical manufacturers is vital to the organisation’s mission as well as adding value to the supply chain. Like other stakeholders, they too have expectations that need to be met, but more so, are also able to provide feedback to the industry, providing guidance and driving the entire process. By engaging the shippers, this is just one of the ways Pharma.Aero is ensuring they are setting their members up for success.



Speaking at a board meeting, which was held at the IATA World Cargo Symposium, after Pharma.Aero had welcomed an additional eight members into the organization, Nathan De Valck, Chairman of Pharma.Aero, said: “Within a short span of six months, Pharma.Aero has achieved our top priority of expanding the membership base to other stakeholders in the pharmaceutical supply chain? The recent addition of the three global pharmaceuticals shippers marks a significant milestone to the organisation as we will be able to collaborate closely with the pharmaceutical shippers on projects to achieve a reliable end-to-end air transport for pharmaceutical cargo. Together with the air cargo stakeholders, we will develop global pharmaceutical trade lanes, implement best practices and share market knowledge and expertise. Pharma.Aero welcomes other IATA CEIV airport communities, shippers, airline carriers, logistics companies, and other pharmaceutical stakeholders with like-minded goals to become members.”


With Johnson & Johnson, MSD and Pfizer as board members, the organisation can proudly say they are guaranteed to have the active collaboration of pharma shippers on this initiative.


“The Pharma.Aero initiative is the ideal platform to foster a targeted collaboration between the air transportation community and the pharma-business. As a strategic member of Phama.Aero, we aim for long term transformational projects that will benefit all stakeholders, including our patients,” said Debby Mattys, assistant director, compliance, EMEA, MSD.


Board Meeting at IATA World Cargo Symposium in Abu Dhabi, 14 March 2017


Moving Forward

As an organisation that is dedicated to further aid the CEIV Pharma certified communities that are dedicated to developing and leading when it comes to handling pharmaceutical cargo, Pharma.Aero will continue to recruit key international pharma stakeholders to increase membership and participation.


Nathan De Valck explans: “For the strategic priorities identified by the board of directors, project groups have been launched.  All strategic and full members participate to share best practices, benchmark the existing processes and technologies and implement efficient solutions within the network.


It is very encouraging that all the strategic members, including the pharmaceutical shippers take a leading role in moving these project groups forward in order to make a positive change in our industry”