Aiming to capture a larger market share in the transport of high-yield, temperature sensitive pharmaceutical products, Emirates SkyCargo has upped its game with the official launch of the only EU Good Distribution Practice-certified facility in the region and the only GDP-cerftified multi-airport hub in the world. The global pharmaceutical industry is forcast to grow at a pace of 22-23 per cent between 2014 and 2018.
“As a leader in the global air cargo industry we decided that it was not only important for us to build state-of- the-art cool chain facilities for the transport of pharma products but to also go the extra mile and ensure the compliance of our operations against the highest international standards,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo. “Our customers can continue to rest easy knowing that shipping their high-value and temperature-sensitive goods with Emirates SkyCargo is a safe and efficient choice for their business and end customers.”
As to why Emirates SkyCargo opted for GDP over the more recent and industry-popular IATA Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) certification Sultan said: “We did a survey accross our customer base and the response was that they follow the same standards so therefore we intended to become GDP compliant. It was purely driven by our customer environment,” he added.
Noting that it took 2-3 years to get to the facility up and running and certifiation in place, Sultan noted that “the initial stage is to have our hub GDP compliant and second stage we would be looking at specific lanes that will need to be GDP compliant at both ends – this is a work in progress.
“We are looking at how best to work with our partners across the globe – our ground handling for instance, to ensure that they upgrade their facility to meet the standard of GDP compliance. First we need to set the priorities and identify where we expect a large movement of pharma between two destinations but I would expect within a year or so we would be able to put something together.” he said.
The new purpose built Emirates SkyPharma facility, part of the new 11,000 square metre extension of Emirates SkyCentral terminal at Dubai International Airport, offers 4,000 square metres of space dedicated to pharmaceutical cargo. It also features temperature controlled zones (2-8 degree Celsius and 15-25 degree Celsius), 88 temperature controlled individual positions in the automated ULD (aircraft pallet) handling system and 5 temperature controlled acceptance and delivery truck docks.
Emirates SkyCargo has also been awarded the certification of compliance under the EU Good Distribution Practice guidelines (GDP) for medicinal products for human use by Bureau Veritas following an audit conducted by the certification agency’s team from Germany. The certification validates the carrier’s adherence to the strict guidelines on the transport and handling of pharmaceutical products and covers all Emirates SkyCargo handling activities for pharmaceutical products at its hub in Dubai.
Emirates SkyCargo is the first cargo airline in the world that has obtained GDP certification for its hub operations covering two airports and the 24/7 bonded trucking service that connects cargo between them. The carrier also operates the largest GDP certified area in the world offering a total area of 8,600 square metres of combined handling space dedicated for pharmaceutical products at Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central.
The Good Distribution Practice guidelines outlined by the European Commission have been designed to ensure that the quality and integrity of pharmaceutical products are maintained during transportation. As part of its audit process, Bureau Veritas, well known around the world for their high standards, subject knowledge and experience, scrutinised all aspects of the handling and storage of pharmaceutical shipments through Emirates SkyCargo’s dual hubs in Dubai to ensure compliance with GDP guidelines on a number of subjects including quality management, product integrity, security and training of staff handling pharmaceutical products.
“Throughout the audit process we found strong evidence of Emirates SkyCargo’s commitment across all levels to delivering high quality and secure transportation for pharmaceutical products. We are pleased to certify Emirates SkyCargo’s facilities at Dubai International airport, at Dubai World Central and the bonded road service between its hubs as GDP compliant” said Ahmad Chaouk, vice president, sales & marketing, Middle East, India, Caspian Sea & Africa Operating Group, Bureau Veritas.
The new Emirates SkyPharma facility at Dubai International airport works in conjunction with Emirates SkyCentral DWC, the carrier’s freighter hub in Dubai World Central which offers 4,600 square metres of dedicated area for pharmaceutical cargo. Both facilities complement the range of innovative cool chain products and solutions offered by Emirates SkyCargo including the Cool Dolly, the White Container and White Cover Advanced, all of which are designed to prevent temperature fluctuations or spikes from occurring during any part of the transportation process.
Emirates SkyCargo’s pharma handling capabilities at its dual hubs further consolidate Dubai’s position as a leading destination for healthcare and pharma logistics.
In 2015 Emirates SkyCargo shipped close to 11,000 tonnes of pharmaceutical products across its global network through its hub in Dubai. The top pharmaceutical products shipped include critical medication for diabetes and cancer, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), blood derivatives and vaccines.