Emirates SkyCargo is now operating out of a new purpose-built 1,000 sqm pharmaceutical cargo facility in Chicago (ORD) developed in partnership with ground handling company Maestro.
The facility, with a capacity of 15,000 tonnes of pharma shipments per annum, has scope for additional expansion. It also provides comprehensive protection for pharma cargo through temperature controlled zones for acceptance and delivery, pharma cargo build up and break down, storage and direct ramp access, the carrier says.
“Emirates SkyCargo is committed to the safe and secure transportation of temperature sensitive pharmaceutical shipments. Having a dedicated facility for pharma at one of our busiest stations for pharma in our network is a big boost to our pharma handling credentials and capability,” says Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president, Emirates SkyCargo.
Sultan adds that the partnership was a “unique model” where the carrier worked closely with the ground handler and were involved in the planning for the facility from the very beginning. “Using our learnings from transporting pharma across six continents, we were able to collaborate to make the new pharma facility fit for purpose,” he says.
The facility offers temperature controlled zones (2-8 degree Celsius and 15-25 degree Celsius) for acceptance and delivery, pharma cargo build up, breakdown and storage. The proximity of the facility to the ramp also means that cargo has to spend less time in transit to and from the terminal to the aircraft.
The dedicated pharma facility in Chicago is part of Emirates SkyCargo’s broader strategy to enhance protection for temperature sensitive pharma shipments not just at its hub in Dubai, but from origin to destination.
Following up on the success of the pharma corridors initiative which was announced in Jan 2018, Emirates SkyCargo has expanded its initial network of 12 pharma stations to 20.
As part of pharma corridors, Emirates SkyCargo works with ground handling partners and other local stakeholders at the stations that are important origin or destination points for pharma, in order to ensure a high standard of handling operations for pharmaceuticals in line with Emirates SkyCargo’s stringent norms.
Commenting on pharma corridors, Henrik Ambak, Emirates senior vice president, Cargo Operations Worldwide, says: “Pharmaceutical cargo being transported by air are growing in their sophistication and complexity in terms of the strict regulations for handling and temperature control.
“We introduced the pharma corridors initiative because we wanted to expand the required high standard of handling for pharma shipments further into our network and serve markets better from origin to destination.”
Ambak notes that the carrier has successfully applied this model of working with its ground handling partners at its major pharma stations around the world, with positive feedback from customers.
“This has motivated us to replicate the model at more pharma stations thus growing our pharma corridors network to more than 20 stations. We’ll continue to look at how pharma flows through our network and add more stations in the future,” Ambak adds.
Emirates SkyCargo’s pharma operations in Dubai including the 24/7 trucking operations between its terminals at Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) have been certified as compliant to EU GDP (Good Distribution Practices) guidelines this year.
Emirates SkyCargo first received GDP certification in 2016 which was then revalidated in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, the air cargo carrier went through a rigorous audit by Bureau Veritas where its pharma handling facilities and processes were evaluated completely from the ground up.
With over 8,000 sqm of dedicated pharma storage and handling space in Dubai, Emirates SkyCargo operates the world’s largest multi-airport GDP certified hubs. During the financial year 2018/19, the carrier transported more than 75,000 tonnes of pharmaceuticals through its network.