Worldwide Flight Services’ (WFS) investment in 12 dedicated pharma facilities at airports in Europe, the United States and Africa generated significant increases in time- and temperature-sensitive volumes in the first five months of 2020, and will provide vital support to airlines, freight forwarders and their healthcare customers involved in the global distribution of a coronavirus vaccine once one becomes available.
The growth of pharma shipments by air in the past 2-3 years, and the development of premium products by airlines for temperature controlled healthcare and life science shipments, prompted WFS to make a multi-million euro investment in pharma centres at its airport stations in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Madrid, Miami, New York and Paris CDG. With the importance of health and well-being taking on even greater significance for consumers since the outbreak of COVID-19, shipment volumes and the number of airlines using the new WFS facilities have been rising month-on-month.
In Johannesburg, import shipments rose by more than 72% year-on-year in the first five months of 2020 to 627 tonnes, driven by the handling of particularly high volumes for Kuehne + Nagel. Amsterdam has also seen strong growth as new airline customers, including Saudi Arabian Airlines, boosted WFS’ pharma business by 285% and 134% in April and May respectively, while volumes at the airport for January-May of 1,444 tonnes were up 92% over the same period in 2018.
The opening of WFS’ new €10 million Pharma Centre at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and its subsequent IATA CEIV Pharma certification in February, has also encouraged rising pharma volumes from customers such as Qatar Airways, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Air Algérie, Allied Air, Emirates and Kuehne + Nagel.
WFS will continue to evaluate opportunities for additional pharma facilities in line with customer demand. Already on the agenda is the further expansion of its temperature-controlled pharma operation in Copenhagen, which handles high volumes of medicines and insulin. The larger, enhanced facility will be completed by 2022.
“We are proud to be supporting our airline and freight forwarder customers, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, during this peak in demand for time- and temperature-sensitive medical supplies. Once a coronavirus vaccine is found, specialists air cargo services will help to protect the integrity of the vaccine as it is distributed globally. Our investment means we will be ready to meet this demand when it comes,” WFS Executive Vice President Cargo for Europe Middle East Asia Africa (EMEAA) John Batten said.
Strategically located in the heart of airport cargo zones, WFS’ pharma operations provide dedicated warehouse space with landside and airside acceptance capability, specially trained pharma handling teams, temperature monitoring and reporting systems, and adapted transport fleets to guarantee the integrity of all pharmaceutical shipments in line with our high standards of safety and security.