Puerto Rico life sciences air cargo community gathers momentum

From left to right: Advisor Jonas van Stekelenburg; David Perez-Larson, business development officer at the DEDC; and Kurt Schosinsky, chief executive of Viems Consulting and advisor for Aerostar Source: Puerto Rico Life Sciences Air Cargo Community

Last month (April), it was announced that the life sciences air cargo business in the Americas was set for a boost with the creation of a new Puerto Rico-based life sciences air cargo logistics community.

Puerto Rico is said to be the number one bioscience manufacturing hub in the US as measured by export volumes.

The Puerto Rico Life Sciences Air Cargo Community has now been created, with confirmation that companies from across the supply chain are joining the newly formed group.

It is free to join and open to any Puerto Rico-based company operating in the life science and/or airfreight industry.

The group is supported by the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC).

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers were at the first meeting of the Community last week and will sit on its new board, along with representatives from airlines, airports, ground handlers, hauliers, forwarders and integrators.

The Community was actually officially launched yesterday (May 9) at the ongoing air cargo Europe event in Munich, Germany.

David Perez-Larson, business development officer at the DEDC, explained that the group aims to improve the overall quality of airfreight-related operations on the island.

“We will be adopting best practices and striving towards a standardised way of operating, as well as representing and lobbying for the airfreight community with legislators and authorities,” he said.

“This is an important collaboration in which we will be working together on tangible projects to ensure a high-quality service for the life sciences community.

“Amongst our plans will be gathering data to support our message to the logistics industry that Puerto Rico is a ‘hidden gem’ in the sector, and we plan to present the first data set this summer.”

Perez-Larson continued: “We will also be holding training meetings about the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification over coming months as part of ongoing education programs for the workforce and community at large.”

A number of Community members have already started the IATA CEIV certification process.

Board members, which include representatives from the DDEC and Invest Puerto Rico, as well as the Industry University Research Center (INDUNIV), Aerostar Airport Holdings and the Port Authority of Puerto Rico, are elected for a one-year tenure and will meet every couple of months to agree on projects and topics to communicate to the logistics industry, as well as to legislators and authorities.

The Community will convene twice a year for collective community meetings organised by the board.

“This is not only about content, bonds in general need to be developed and networking is as important as working on projects,” advised Jonas van Stekelenburg, an advisor to the Community.

“The more Community members trust each other and the more members that trust the community, the more we can achieve.”

Puerto Rico has US Department of Transportation designation as an international air transhipment hub, a waiver that allows for unencumbered transhipment at the island’s three international airports.

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