Securing the cold chain

All parts of the pharma shipment journey are now CEIV certified

Cathay Pacific is one of the first airlines in Asia to be awarded IATA’s CEIV certification, which addresses the industry’s need for safety, security, compliance and efficiency in the transportation of pharma products. As a community initiative supported by Hong Kong International Airport, all parts of the storage, transfer and transport of pharma shipments at Hong Kong are now CEIV-certified.

We look at what CEIV certification will mean for the airline, airport handling services – and the customer.

The airline

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We are very proud to be the first Hong Kong-based carrier to have achieved CEIV certification. As an industry, air freight previously lacked consistency in moving time and temperature-sensitive life-science products. Consistency and quality are vital for these types of shipments. Customers need assurance that their valuable and life-saving shipments are transported safely, but our industry’s inconsistencies were opening opportunities to competitors from rail and seafreight.

As it stands, different airlines might have their own individual approaches and processes, while some pharma companies were already carrying out their own validation of carriers. It was therefore good news for us as an industry and for our customers that IATA developed CEIV. It is specific, industry-led guidance and certification to the very highest standard.

CEIV brings very stringent operational safety plans and processes for us to follow and practices that will govern the overall standards of pharmaceutical transportation for the airfreight industry. This will be manifested through stringent pre-validation assessments on an airline’s pharma capabilities and validation methodology that is applied to all carriers to ensure standardised measurement.

We view CEIV as the leading programme and so it is important that we achieved the certification which allows us to offer the highest possible quality for our PharmaLift product. We have conducted a review of our processes and implemented training programmes for our people so that we deliver the best service to our customers.

Clifford Kwok, Head of Cargo Solutions and Airline Partnerships, Cathay Pacific
Clifford Kwok, Head of Cargo Customer Solutions and Airline Partnerships, Cathay Pacific

The Cathay Pacific Group’s subsidiaries that handle our ramp and warehouse operations in Hong Kong are also CEIV certified. This is an important achievement so that we maintain our reputation for quality at the world’s busiest air cargo hub along every stage of the logistics journey.

We are proud of what we have achieved as it demonstrates Cathay Pacific Cargo’s commitment in offering the highest level of service standard for the shipments of pharmaceutical products.

The ground handling services

Cathay Pacific Services
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In 2016, Cathay Pacific Services Ltd (CPSL), which runs the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal at Hong Kong International Airport, handled 1.83 million tonnes of freight, making it the busiest terminal in the world by tonnage throughput and at the world’s busiest airport for cargo.

Achieving IATA’s CEIV certification is a joint initiative between airlines, suppliers and the Airport Authority and it adds a quality assurance to customers that will help Hong Kong maintain its number-one cargo status. Pharma as a category of cargo is growing with more medicinal products entering the market, while demands on cold-chain quality from manufacturers are increasing too. CEIV will ensure that we operate to the highest possible standards so that we remain competitive both as the Cathay Pacific Group in our market, but also against seafreight.

There has been extensive investment in equipment, staff training and new processes. These ensure that temperature sensitive shipments are temperature logged over Wi-Fi, are last to load/first to be unloaded to reduce tarmac delays, and kept in state-of-the-art storage facilities in the terminal.

Jenny Lam, CEO, HAS and CPSL
Jenny Lam, CEO, HAS and CPSL

This means that shipments are protected from temperature excursions at the time of greatest vulnerability – the tarmac transfer of shipments from aircraft to storage and vice-versa. That part of the journey – from a Cathay Pacific aircraft, on to temperature-controlled dollies operated by HAS (Hong Kong Airport Services Ltd) to the storage facilities at the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is now all CEIV certified and delivered by Cathay Pacific Group companies.

This offers a quality assurance that will give new and existing customers the confidence to place more business and so will help us to support the growth of Cathay Pacific Cargo.

The customer

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Supplier management is something pharmaceutical manufacturers take extremely seriously. They themselves also rely on many suppliers in their supply chains that supply raw materials and other services to develop and manufacture their medicinal products.

Often a single multinational manufacturer may have dozens or even hundreds of suppliers that they trust and rely on, and since they cannot audit every single one of them every year, they take a risk-based approach to prioritise their audits.

Now that same mind-set is being applied here in the airfreight industry. Cathay Pacific Cargo achieving IATA CEIV certification in Hong Kong means a whole lot ‘less’ risk to time and temperature-sensitive life science shipments, compared to other airlines there, which do not have such certification yet.

David Bang, Global Head of DHL Temperature Management Solutions / CEO LifeConEx
David Bang, Global Head of DHL Temperature Management Solutions / CEO LifeConEx

Risk-based approach in decision making and quality assurance is becoming the norm, and Cathay Pacific Cargo’s commitment to IATA CEIV certification will soon or later pay dividends that are far more important than immediate profits – trust in the market through reliability and excellence. Congratulations to the Cathay Pacific Cargo Team!