ACA: Shippers should support efforts to improve services

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If pharma shippers are not going to support the air cargo industry’s efforts to improve services then they should stop complaining, Brussels Airport Company head of cargo, Steven Polmans believes.

He says the industry has been making a lot of effort to improve services for pharmaceutical shippers in recent years and they need to recognise this, reports James Muir from Miami.

Polmans made his comments at the Air & Sea Cargo Americas conference on 2 November during the session ‘Pharma Air Shippers Forum: Meeting the Pharma Shipper’s Expectations’.

Brussels Airport was the first airport in the world where stakeholders were fully IATA CEIV Pharma certified.

He told delegates: “Pharma shippers have been complaining for a long time, if they are not going to support us then they should stop complaining and take responsibility.”

He adds Brussels started three years ago and is still gaining momentum, saying: “We do it for the shippers as we want to meet their needs so they should support those who make investments if they want improved standards.”

Polmans explained that shippers complained sending pharma was like gambling as sometimes it would work but other times not, even when using the same airline at the same airport. Companies would have no idea what happened at the airport so Brussels wanted consistent standards.

He said: “We are trying to make the experience transparent, coming to a kind of standard that you if send by Brussels you can expect this service, a minimum requirement. This is what started it and the whole CEIV process, training, infrastructure. There has been a big improve in the mind set towards pharma.”

Despite what people believe, CEIV was not developed by IATA but by pharma companies, and it was so successful that IATA adopted it. As Polmans pointed out it really came from the shippers.

Brussels Airlines Cargo vice president of global cargo, Alban Francois believes everyone in the supply chain is trying their best to improve matters but if they are not aligned then there can be problems.

Information is very important, he says: “It all starts if you have the right data measuring and understanding is happening. We did that at Brussels for the ramp transportation because we needed a solution for ramp. When you start to measure and understand where issues are you can start to solve it together.”

American Airlines Cargo manager for cold chain strategy, Tom Grubb said GDP was the gold standard by manufacturers but CEIV established definite guidelines all companies can follow.

He comments: “It gives individuals a way to look at operations so you are all doing it the same way to meet the need of the shippers. The benefit and challenge of CEIV is it gives you the opportunity to evaluation your own processes and work out where are the gaps.”

Francois points out: “CEIV is not the end goal, it is the first step to create awareness” and that being certified is a guaranteed awareness to continuously improve processes and look into issues.

Miami Dade Aviation Department chief of staff, Joe Napoli says CEIV is resource intensive, explaining: “You risk having to dedicate resources and time, we expect we will be required to be CEIV certified. There is an expectation on demand that it will be there in the future.”

Polmans describes CEIV as an investment, saying: “Cost is always an issue, the pharma shipper must be willing to pay for quality.”

Grubb adds: “To handle these products you have to make investments but you can’t absorb all the costs, you pass costs to customers in terms of day to day costs. When customers want a rate reduction there is a problem making the math work.”

Session moderator Miami Dade Aviation Department section chief aviation marketing, Jimmy Nares ended the discussion saying: “Collaboration is key, communication is important, as it forming strategic partnerships. You need open dialogue, it is important to be transparent to gain the trust of shippers. They need to trust the products to build confidence.”