Emirates SkyCargo to launch specialist pharma flights

17 / 07 / 2017

  • Emirates SkyCargo B777F aircraft

Airline Emirates SkyCargo has revealed that next month it will begin offering “dedicated” pharma flights from London and Frankfurt.

Speaking at an event organised by the airline and new partner SkyCell, Emirates SkyCargo manager global sales pharma Julian Sutch said that where applicable it would begin to group pharma shipments on certain flights to further mitigate the risk of temperature deviation.

The first specialist pharma flights will take off from Heathrow and Frankfurt and will be timed to land in Dubai during the evening when the temperature is cooler. The service will be rolled out to other destinations in the future.

Sutch said grouping shipments onto certain flights will result in increased focus on the special requirements of pharma shipments at ground handlers and on the ramp. Handlers will also be able to better plan for arrival.

“Out of London, one flight a day will be consolidated and all the pharma will fly on that flight,” said Sutch.

“That results in more focus from the ground handler and the pilots and there won’t be hundreds of different products underneath where you could have varying temperatures.

“We can only really do this when we have multiple frequencies per day, or depending on the volume of cargo coming out, we can do it on certain flights in the week.

“Some airlines have only one flight a day and so they are restricted as to what they can put on that aircraft and how they segregate it but we will never put a fish pallet next to a pharma pallet, we will put them on separate flights.”

Sutch said that when weekly pharma flights are introduced, shippers may be required to change the day of export if they want to benefit from the specialist flights.

So far shippers had been receptive to the idea: “They were willing to change the day they export from their manufacturing sites to match the flights that we have. So when we got the all clear from a number of shippers, we thought let’s role with this project.”

He said around 80% of cargo on the flights would be pharma products.

“In any aircraft only one of the holds is temperature controlled, so in that hold that is temperature controlled it will be pretty much close to 100% pharma,” he said.

Sutch added that it had also split out its pharma product into three different packages − SkyPharma, SkyPharma Plus and SkyPharma Active.

Each would target different value products and offer various levels of protection.

For instance, SkyPharma Active offers prioritised ground handling, quick ramp transportation, temperature controlled storage and active containers.

SkyPharma offers quick ramp transport and temperature-controlled storage for products in passive packaging and shipper supplied thermal covers.

Sutch also spoke of the benefits of teaming up with SkyCell to offer its semi-passive temperature controlled containers, which have the ability to re-charge when in certain temperature zones.

He said that many destinations had a shortage of dry ice and cool rooms and therefore having a product that could recharge along the journey, had five-times more energy storage than active containers and do not require batteries or dry ice was extremely beneficial for shippers.

 “A solution like this can re-charge in a 2-8 degrees Celsius facility and then if it is kicked out for two days because of a lack of capacity it can continue to keep products cool.”

SkyCell’s chief executive Richard Ettl added that its rental customers would benefit from Emirates’ global reach and consistent performance.

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