In a sign of anticipated growth in its pharma vertical, Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo (ABC) is expanding its partnership with temperature-controlled container manufacturer and lessor SkyCell, the two parties announced today in a joint release.
AirBridgeCargo said its passive pharmaceuticals shipments increased two-fold in the first quarter of 2019, to around 3,500 tonnes year-on-year, boosting demand for containers. SkyCell has previously worked with the carrier, and today’s agreement confirms ABC plans to expand the variety of temperature-controlled containers it leases from the Zurich-based company.
As is typical of many passive container options on the market, Skycell’s containers keep internal temperatures low, even when external temperatures are extremely high. The passive container option, maintains internal temperatures “within the range of +2° to +8°C” in normal conditions, and between “+15°C to +25°C under external temperature excursions from -35°C to +65°C,” according to SkyCell.
The containers are also equipped with temperature sensors and data-collection capabilities, which “supports our intention to move further with ‘Internet of Things’ penetration into the industry and step aside from peer-to-peer data sharing to information transparency and availability,” said Fedor Novikov, Deputy General Director, Products, AirBridgeCargo Airlines.
The move also fits with recent efforts from ABC to more closely tailor pharmaceutical shipments. The company signed on with “internet of things” (IoT) digital avionics firm SITAONAIR last summer to enable real-time temperature monitoring for sensitive pharmaceutical cargo. ABC also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co., Ltd (PACTL) earlier last year as well, to cooperate on handling services for time- and temperature- sensitive pharma cargo.
Despite the slowdown in general cargo, carriers have continued to find growth in specialty cargo segments such as pharma cargo. Other carriers too, continue to bolster their pharma handling capabilities. Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo and Air France KLM Cargo) recently signed leases with SkyCell earlier this year to improve pharmaceutical shipments, and Cargolux and Emirates SkyCargo signed leases with SkyCargo in 2017.