DALLAS — As with the proverbial horse that is led to water it refuses to drink, air cargo players offering shipments certified by the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) have found their own challenge in shippers not taking advantage of the available pharma shipment options. Shippers instead opt to book pharma products either as perishables, or even as general cargo.
IATA’s head of special cargo, Andrea Gruber, advocated improving communication with shippers, to explain that a pharma shipment classified as general cargo will not have the same handling and storage expectations as those shipments booked with CEIV standards. Gruber, speaking here at the World Cargo Symposium, encouraged CEIV-certified carriers to have their forwarder partners explain to shippers, “At the end of the day, if that’s really precious cargo or sensitive cargo, you might want to let your customer know there are processes in place to make sure it’s handled in a specific way.”
When shippers book a pharmaceutical shipment as general cargo, “they still expect cargo handlers and airlines to handle the shipment based on its packaging,” said Bruno Guella, the managing director at MVD Free Airport. MVD created a policy requiring shippers to opt out of higher-cost pharma handling of cargo packaged for cool-chain transport.
Other airport attendees took a hardline stance, noting that it was important in some cases to “just say no.” Airline attendees concurred, adding that the deciding factor is the air waybill. Brussels Airport’s cargo manager Nathan de Valck said getting the entire airport community onboard with that strategy has worked in Brussels. “We had to educate our whole community to apply that rule,” said de Valck, “but once you start doing that as a community, you really start educating the shippers.”
Educating shippers on CEIV Pharma transportation options is the ideal option, but if pharma shippers still select general cargo, Gruber added that communication goals should shift to explain to shippers that their shipments will not have access to the higher standards required by CEIV Pharma.
“If I book an economy ticket, I can’t be allowed in business [class],” Gruber added.
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