India pivotal for IAG Cargo

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British Airways and Iberia aircraft at Heathrow Airport

India plays a pivotal role in the IAG Cargo network, with the growing pharmaceutical business offering valuable business opportunities, regional commercial manager Asia Pacific, John Cheetham tells Air Cargo Week.

As part of the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, India hopes to be the third largest pharmaceutical market by 2020, making up 20 per cent of global exports in generics and 49 per cent of drug master filings registered in the US.

IAG Cargo has upgraded services to India to help accommodate this, including daily flights to five Indian cities, and twice a day in the cases of Delhi and Mumbai. It is using a Boeing 787-9 on Delhi services, an aircraft designed to carry large quantities of temperature sensitive produce.

Deloitte predicts the Indian pharmaceutical business will reach $27 billion in sales by the end of 2016, something Cheetham says IAG is well placed to take advantage of. “As a carrier we are exceptionally well placed to service the transportation of this growing sector, offering our customers access to our temperature sensitive, industry-leading Constant Climate products as well as unrivalled global network of over 350 destinations.”

Cheetham says: “Constant Climate provides shippers and forwarders a solution that helps them comply with the stringent quality and regulatory needs associated with this product as well as access to 110 Constant Climate approved destinations across the world.”

He says Indian pharmaceutical exports have grown 45 per cent in a year, helped by greater emphasis on compliance and supply chain management including Good Distribution Practice (GDP). Cheetham says: “In this important quality differentiator IAG Cargo has led the initiative by teaming up with Exelsius, the international Cold Chain Management Consultancy, and conducting GDP workshops in London and Hyderabad in 2015.”

India is not without its challenges though, it lacks transhipment hubs and customs needs to be simplified. Cheetham says: “Enabling our airports to handle transhipment effectively will add to the existing opportunity in the airfreight market.”

“This will need to be aligned with a simplified customs process and documentation through full adoption of EDI doing away with physical paperwork. In line with our global e-commitment, our operation in India has succeeded in closing 2015 with 85 per cent e-AWB [electronic air waybill] penetration.”

Overall, despite the challenges, Cheetham believes India has great potential for IAG Cargo. “Overall, we are very optimistic about the current and future potential of the Indian market and will keenly support developments which benefit the industry.“