IAG Cargo opens pharma center at MAD, taps Latin American market

Today, International Airlines Group (IAG) Cargo opened its new 900 square-meter pharmaceutical center at Madrid International Airport (MAD), which the carrier said will primarily serve the growing Latin American pharmaceuticals market.

IAG Cargo’s Good Distribution Practice (GDP)-certified facility is divided into two temperature-controlled rooms, which will be used to hold goods transported via the carrier’s Constant Climate services for time and temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products. A GDP-trained team of handlers will ensure the quality of goods by transferring shipments between aircraft and the pharma center with a fleet of refrigerated trucks.

IAG Cargo said that last year, it shipped over 25,000 tonnes of medicines and vaccines, and that the new facility will allow it to continue to increase the volumes of these products passing through its Madrid hub.

As one of its three GDP-certified Constant Climate hubs – the other two at Dublin (DUB) and London (LHR)– IAG Cargo’s new pharmaceutical center allows the carrier greater connectivity from Europe to the Latin American pharmaceuticals market, which is projected to increase by 9 percent each year until 2028, according to the carrier. The region is considered one of the most promising in terms of growth in demand for airfreight capacity, and has attracted a growing number of air cargo industry providers over the last year, including DHL Express, Emirates SkyCargo and BDP.

On the receiving end of the IAG Cargo’s anticipated increase in pharmaceutical shipments from Latin America is MAD, which also shows promising growth.

MAD has seen continued growth in cargo over the past several years – in 2017, cargo volumes at MAD increased 13.1 percent to 470,795 tonnes of cargo, and in 2018, reported a 9.9 percent increase to 518,859 tonnes of cargo. Growth in cargo volume at the airport continued into 2019, as MAD reported 39,723 cargo tonnes in January, marking a 5.0 percent increase year-over-year. The major increase in cargo volumes is likely driven by the airport’s increased connectivity across all regions, particularly in the Asia Pacific and Latin America.

The operations of IAG Cargo’s new pharmaceutical center will be worth watching moving forward, particularly as to how it will impact volumes moving through MAD.

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