Schiphol PGA shows the benefits of collaboration

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is often cited as model for transparency and competence in handling pharma shipments.

In 2016, this competence was given concrete form with the setting up of Pharma Gateway Amsterdam (PGA), an alliance between Schiphol Group, Air Cargo Netherlands and 23 pharma logistics companies with the aim of establishing Schiphol as the best European pharma hub.

The purpose is to retain, enhance and attract pharma business to the airport by offering shippers a closed supply chain that is IATA CEIV Pharma certified, and/or equally qualified programmes focused on airfreight.

Of the 23 logistics partners in PGA, some 90 per cent of the members are CEIV certified. The others are in the process of gaining certification and PGA hopes to have 100 per cent certified membership by the end of this year.

In fact, some are already in the process of CEIV recertification, which is obligatory every three years.

Schiphol Cargo director business development, Ferry van der Ent

The pharmaceutical business has been a focal point for Schiphol for some years and will remain so, explains Schiphol director business development cargo Ferry van der Ent.

“We communicate, collaborate and co-operate with all players within the cargo community,” van der Ent says.

“We have open dialogue and common interests to make sure that pharma remains high on the priority list. It is very important that all parties are IATA CEIV certified to maintain high quality standards.”

Some four per cent of Schiphol’s total cargo volume was stated as pharma shipments in 2017. That was 14 per cent higher compared with 2016 in volume terms and 13 per cent up by value.

“Within the air cargo chain pharma very valuable and important,” van der Ent continues.

“Pharmaceuticals generally are constantly growing due to socio-economic developments. Mid-value pharma shipments will gradually migrate to ocean logistics leaving high end products to rely on air transport. Therefore our prediction is that the average value of pharma by air will increase more rapidly compared with volume. So we expect growth, but slow growth.”

As previously reported in Air Cargo Week, Schiphol is implementing a number of initiatives, including technology tools, to match demand for shipments with available belly space.

The airport believes that pharma is well suited to benefit from these initiatives, as pharma shipments are generally smaller in size. Collaboration is key, adds van der Ent. PGA works with the different members to have “the best qualified and transparent air cargo chain”.

“However, our members themselves continuously invest in staff training and new facilities,” he says.

The most recent example of this is the new warehouse of Cyberfreight in Nieuw-Vennep, which includes a separate temperature controlled section for pharma products.