Pharma boom boosts airfreight forecast

PHARMACEUTICAL logistics growth will average 7.6 per cent in the coming years, creating more opportunities for freighter operators.

The sector will leap to a value of US$63 billion by the end of 2015, as more Asian countries produce drugs, research firm Transport Intelligence reported.

“Just about every airline is looking at this space with interest right now,” Dan Gagnon, UPS’s European health-care logistics director, said. “As more competition gets into this space, you need to come up with solutions that are more economical but provide the same level of service.

“Infrastructure for us in India has been quite limited,” Gagnon said. “For our strategic initiatives, that is an area in which we will be investing.” UPS already has a cold cargo facility in Singapore.

UPS, which provides a freight service for German drug-maker Merck KGaA, has invested in five new pharmaceuticals facilities in the past year and recently purchased drugs logistics company Pieffe Group in Italy.

Lufthansa Cargo has opened a cold cargo facility in Frankfurt (Germany) to add to a pharmaceutical hub in Hyderabad, India, which started operations in May.

The carrier is planning to dedicate six MD-11Fs over the next four years to handle pharmaceuticals as the five 777s the airline will begin to receive at the end of 2013 free up capacity.

“It has been our most successful product in the past few years,” Andreas Otto, Lufthansa Cargo’s head of sales and marketing, said. “The value carried in one container can easily reach more than $30 million.”

UPS is currently tying up deals to improve its Asian facilities and expects to announce some big news in a round one month’s time.

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