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HKIA Recognised as IATA CEIV Pharma Partner Airport

  • 05 Mar 2018

Globally assured standard for pharmaceutical transportation between aircraft and agents


Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has been recognised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a Partner Airport of IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma). The certification was awarded in recognition of HKIA’s competency and preparedness in handling pharmaceuticals by air that require a stringent temperature control process at the globally assured standard.


A globally recognised and standardised certification for pharmaceutical airfreight shipment, the IATA CEIV Pharma Certification Programme is designed to help the industry develop a network of certified pharmaceutical trade lanes that meet consistent cold-chain management standards and assure product integrity.


HKIA’s three cargo terminals (Asia Airfreight Terminal Limited, Cathay Pacific Services Limited and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited) and three ramp handling operators (Hong Kong Airport Services Limited, Jardine Aviation Services Limited and SATS HK Ltd), along with a local base carrier, Cathay Pacific Group, achieved IATA CEIV Pharma Certification in recognition of the capability of their operations and facilities in handling pharmaceutical shipments. The certification demonstrates the cargo operators’ compliance with industry standards for handling pharmaceutical products.


HKIA is one of the few airports to achieve this airport-wide certification, meaning it has the expertise to handle the entire airside pharmaceutical transportation process end-to-end, from the time an aircraft lands to releasing the pharmaceuticals to agents, and vice versa. Using high operational standards, including an electronic clearance system and 24-hour, round-the-clock customs services at the cargo terminals, HKIA offers excellent efficiency in cold chain logistics.


A ceremony commemorating the certification was held today during the FlyPharma Conference Asia 2018. Ronald Schaefer, IATA Assistant Director of Cargo, Ground Operations and CEIV Consulting, presented the certification to Fred Lam, Chief Executive Officer of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA). Representatives from the three HKIA cargo terminals, ramp handling operators and Cathay Pacific Group attended and officiated the ceremony.


Zhang Baojian, IATA’s Regional Vice President for North Asia, said, “Congratulations to the AA in establishing a pharmaceutical logistics community at HKIA and for the achievement of the IATA CEIV Pharma Certification of its community stakeholders. The shipping of pharmaceutical products is the fastest growing segment in the air freight industry. Given the sensitive nature of the products, it is necessary to establish global standards and best practices to ensure the integrity of pharmaceutical products is not compromised when they are shipped by air. Having undergone a rigorous assessment for the CEIV Pharma certification, HKIA’s community stakeholders are well placed to serve this important segment of the air cargo industry. Pharmaceutical companies can also have the confidence that the cold-chain integrity of their products is maintained.”


Mr Lam said, “Being the world’s busiest cargo airport since 2010 and handling over 5 million of cargo and airmail in 2017, HKIA strives to maintain its leadership status as an international aviation and cargo hub in terms of both volume and value. Pharmaceutical air cargo shipments has a strong market outlook, and this certification serves a testimony of HKIA’s dedication in continuously enhancing its air cargo facilities for even higher efficiency and reliability.  I would like to express my gratitude to our business partners for their tremendous contributions over the years.  Our airport could not have achieved this certification without them.”  

The compound annual growth rate of global cool pharma air trade during the period of 2005-2016 was 5.4%, way above the 1.8% growth for total global air trade recorded over the same period. In the past four years, HKIA experienced an annual 12% growth in pharma tonnage. HKIA’s growth rate for pharma tonnage is expected to reach over 16% per annum from 2016 to 2023.


To support the growth, the AA will continue to invest in its cold chain facilities, for instance, by investing HK$16 million to purchase 21 more cool dollies this year. Cool dollies maintain pharmaceutical products at their specified temperatures against the ambient temperature during ramp transportation. In addition, HKIA has more than 5,000m2 of cold room storage in its three cargo terminals, which provide dedicated rooms at a range of temperatures from -20oC to 25oC catering to the specific needs of different pharmaceutical products.

The certificate presentation ceremony is part of the two-day programme of FlyPharma Conference Asia 2018, held in Hong Kong for the first time with HKIA as host partner. The conference addresses and examines supply chain topics tailored to the needs and issues of the pharma and cargo companies operating in the region.


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