IATA proud that industry embraces unified global approach


Having called for a unified global approach for pharmaceutical handling, IATA is very happy with the way the air cargo industry has embraced the CEIV Pharma programme.

Despite the growth in the global pharmaceutical industry, air cargo’s share of global transport suffered a decline from 17% to 11%, with a lack of compliance, standardisation, accountability and transparency across the supply chain being blamed. Over 50% of temperature excursions were occurring in the hands of airlines and airports resulting in billions of dollars of produce being damaged. The air cargo industry had to do something so CEIV Pharma was born.

The programme combines industry standards set by IATA’s Temperature Controlled Regulations with EU and WHO GDP principles to provide a rigorous and consistent assessment of pharmaceutical handling.

Ronald Schaefer, senior principal – consulting and head of CEIV Pharma at IATA, and Ricardo Aitken, project manager in IATA’s consulting division say: “It is important to note that the programme goes beyond simply considering regulations, best practices, infrastructure and procedures. It also places a strong focus on education for programme participants across all levels of their respective organisations, from the operators to upper management.”

Positive reaction

The air cargo industry has reacted positively to the CEIV Pharma programme, with 235 certified stations and another 40 undergoing the assessment at the time of writing.

Schaefer and Aitken say that once participants realise the benefits of the programme, they are eager to spread the word, encouraging other players to get involved.

They say: “Having partners (both upstream and downstream) “speak the same language” in terms of workforce knowledge, industry best practice, SOPs and minimum infrastructure can only lead to less points of conflict and overall improvement in a company’s daily work.”

Not only that, but pharmaceutical customers are happy knowing that their temperature-sensitive and often live-saving cargo is being handled properly throughout the supply chain.

Improvements cannot be made by companies acting in isolation, so airport communities such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Singapore and Dallas Fort Worth to name just a few, have worked together to certify the supply chain.


Schaefer and Aitken says one of the biggest values of the community approach is communication and dialogue, saying: “The kinship forged while undertaking the CEIV Pharma certification process together is long-lasting thus leading to overall understanding and acceptance when stakeholders work together not only on cold chain endeavours but other projects as well. The resulting community openness almost always results in positive development for participating airport communities.”

Engagement with shippers

The industry has supported the measures, with letters of support from pharma shippers. Schaefer and Aitken say it constantly strives to involve local authorities when engaging in new projects.

They add: “Our CEIV Pharma team actively participates in engaging more and more shippers at various international and local conferences worldwide. Afterall, ensuring time- and temperature-sensitive vaccines and medications reach the end-user safely is a communal responsibility.”

The CEIV Pharma programme continues to evolve; IATA has adjusted parameters such as timelines, reporting and assessment procedures, duration of certification validity and other issues.

It will continue to be improved, with Schaefer and Aitken saying: “We take stakeholder feedback very seriously and are constantly striving to integrate the latest regulations, best practices and technology in the educational and auditing components of the programme.”