Critical investments for IAG Cargo’s pharma services

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British Airways and Iberia aircraft at Heathrow Airport

IAG Cargo is continuing to make significant investments in cool chain services, most recently with the launch of Constant Climate Critical, according to global head of pharmaceuticals and life sciences, Alan Dorling.

The airline group’s Constant Climate product has been performing well with year-on-year volume growth of three per cent in the first half, with the second half gathering pace and volumes are now nine per cent above last year.

Dorling says the increase was fuelled by significant growth from the UK and Ireland market, up 28 per cent, and Europe rising 21 per cent.

The LATAM region saw a 35 per cent rise in exports, with exports to India and Europe providing the strongest flows.

IAG Cargo has added the Critical ‘must-fly’ guaranteed product to its Constant Climate service.

Dorling says there have been several significant orders on the new product.

IAG Cargo global head of pharmaceuticals and life sciences, Alan Dorling

He explains: “This new product allows pharmaceutical shippers and forwarders access to the highest priority, guaranteed capacity across our network and a dedicated monitoring service through hubs at London Heathrow, Madrid and Dublin.”

With over 100 Constant Climate enabled stations, Dorling believes there is significant potential for growth across key pharmaceutical trade lanes including India, Europe and Latin America.

He says: “Constant Climate Critical is also well positioned to meet the transport requirements of cell therapies and personalised medicines which have limited time windows for patient administration.”

Several trade lanes are proving strong for different products. The proliferation of diabetes in Latin America is driving demand in shipments in insulin to countries including Mexico and Costa Rica, with blood plasma and oncological drugs contributing to growth particularly out of Dublin and Basel.

The development of Indian cities including Hyderabad and Mumbai as pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs has boosted generic shipments from the country, most notably to Latin America and Mexico.

India exports the highest volume of vaccines in the world, supplying the World Health Organization and Unicef.

Dorling comments: “With the advent of newer pentavalent vaccines coming to market and vaccines for Dengue fever and Rotavirus shortly to be launched we expect to see even higher demand for air freight temperature controlled services from Mumbai and Hyderabad.”

IAG Cargo is investing significantly in a new state of the art premium handling facility at Heathrow Airport, which it announced in September 2016.

Dorling says: “The new Constant Climate Quality Centre will be twice the size of our current Constant Climate facility. This will have ‘airlock control’ and a dedicated direct intact lane that can move freight straight to airside.”

Though there has been some modal shift to sea freight, Dorling believes there are also a large number of opportunities for air cargo.

The overall pharmaceutical industry is growing by about five per cent a year, and 54 per cent will be biological, which he says bodes well for airfreight.

Dorling is optimistic, saying: “With the well documented growth in pharmaceutical shipments we believe that we are well placed to offer a secure and highly efficient service to our specialist customers.”