Cargolux Airlines International has been busy adding to its network over the last few months across the globe, and cool chain cargo remains one if its priority targets for growth.
Indeed, the carrier added a service last week to San Juan in Puerto Rico – specifically targeting the sector as it sees opportunities in the market.
The carrier’s global product manager for healthcare and perishables, Stavros Evangelakakis (pictured below), who is also a board member of the Cool Chain Association (CCA) says it has seen single-digit growth over the last few years in cool chain and is working to grow the business.
But he explains Cargolux thinks it is important to nurse and maintain existing contracts, by staying in personal contact with and giving personal attention to customers.
Cargolux has invested heavily over the last few years to meet the demands of cool chain such as carrying out aircraft thermal analysis, developing its CV Pharma product and adding the latest passive and active containers, while its GHA has invested in a new healthcare facility.
This has been necessary as cool chain comes with its challenges due to the different investment made in infrastructure and facilities at airports across the globe and to meet new changing regulations.
Evangelakakis says regardless of regions, cool chain cargo is challenging at every airport it flies to that does not have dedicated facilities, but still relies on cool chain shipments as they are important for the people living there: “In these cases, we have to work with the infrastructure and facilities that exit and we try to establish a set-up that is satisfactory to all parties involved.”
He notes customers expect better transparency, so the carrier has to follow new requirements set by the authorities and pharma firms have to watch their costs, so it can difficult to bring all this “under one roof”.
Cargolux is itself not International Air Transport Association (IATA) International Air Transport Association (IATA) certified, but has the GDP certification, although Evangelakakis feels CEIV has helped increase the expectations from the customers.
As for whether there is a modal shift of cool chain cargo, in Evangelakakis’ view, certain media push the idea that commodities that used to fly airfreight now go via sea freight, explaining: “But there are new commodities in the market requiring airfreight, and many countries do not have the port facilities, which leaves airfreight as their only option.”
But cool chain is not just about pharma and perishables are described by many as the life-blood and staples for air cargo and Evangelakakis says perishables have shown renewed growth over the last couple of years, especially the share flown on all-cargo carriers.
Evangelakakis says collaboration is key and has proven important to Cargolux as it forces it to be transparent and honest about what it can and cannot provide, adding: “As a board member of the CCA I would like to see more collaboration in the market.”