SATS Coolport, which handles perishable air freight in Singapore, has been certified as a centre of excellence in pharmaceutical handling by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
SATS Coolport handled over 15,200 tonnes of pharmaceutical air freight last year, and volumes are increasing.
For the nine-month period from April to December, the volume it handled rose by 70 per cent year-on-year.
This is a bright spot amid a cloudy outlook for the air freight sector as a whole. IATA has warned that “2014 will be challenging year”.
Alex Hungate, president and CEO of SATS, said: “But rather than get depressed, SATS is determined to do something about that, and this is a tangible example of exactly what we are going to be doing about that.
“We are trying to invest for the future, trying to understand what is it that our customers, and indeed our customers’ customers want, that is special in the future. And we know that pharmaceuticals handling is what they need in the future.”
SATS received its certification from IATA on Wednesday, making the Coolport the world’s first Centre of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling.
The certification process took three months to complete and involved upgrading of the facility, as well as specialised training for over 80 SATS employees.
Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of IATA, said: “Shipping of pharmaceutical goods has developed over the years to become the fastest growing market segment in the air freight industry. Given the temperature-sensitive nature of medicines, the shipping of pharmaceutical products of course requires very special care.”
The facility was set up by ground-handling firm SATS in 2010.
Some examples of pharmaceutical air freight include blood plasma and vaccines.
SATS said the certification will “give pharmaceutical companies the guarantee of excellence in service” and in turn could help Changi Airport become an even more attractive pharmaceutical air freight hub.
Source : Channel News Asia | February 12, 2014