DHL Global Forwarding (DHL-GF) and United Airlines are the latest companies to expand their Puerto Rico operations, as air cargo carriers and handlers angle for a piece of the unincorporated U.S. territory’s pharmaceutical export market. With 49 pharmaceutical plants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, plus 12 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, located on the Caribbean island, Puerto Rico is the fifth-largest pharmaceutical manufacturing territory in the world.
The two companies are working together to leverage the island’s life-sciences and pharmaceutical industries with more widebody flights for United, along with expanded cold-chain storage facilities from DHL-GF, including three new temperature-controlled chambers operating at 15° to 25° C in San Juan.
DHL-GF plans to divide its 5,616-square-foot warehouse in San Juan into three independently operated cold chambers, with a combined capacity of 324 pallets. The modified warehouse will use single pallet racks, or 486 pallets on double-deep racks. The three temperature-controlled chambers will feature a hot-gas injection system to maintain required relative humidity levels during operation.
“Pharmaceutical companies have increasingly invested in Puerto Rico over the years, and they need a strong global network and cold-chain infrastructure to handle their delicate medicines and pharmaceutical products,” said Frank Cascante, head of sales and marketing for DHL Temperature Management Solutions.
Starting this December, United will increase widebody service between San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport from once weekly to six times per week. The route will operate with 777 aircraft, providing ample belly capacity for pharma products and offering customers 344 seats, which, the carrier noted, would also benefit island tourism.
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