Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Aviation Group, in partnership with Etihad Airport Services and Abu Dhabi Airports, are preparing to launch a new state-of-the-art pharmaceutical cool chain facility. Due to go into operation soon, the facility will significantly expand Abu Dhabi International Airport’s (AUH) pharmaceutical handling and storage.
Etihad Cargo's customers will benefit from the carrier's expanded International Air Transport Association (IATA) Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma certification for pharmaceutical and life science logistics and provision of world-class, end-to-end temperature-controlled solutions for the transportation of pharmaceuticals across the carrier's global network.
Prior to the opening of the new pharmaceutical facility at the carrier's Abu Dhabi hub, Etihad Cargo transported over 50,000 tonnes of cool chain products, including pharmaceutical and healthcare products via its PharmaLife product and fresh produce via its IATA CEIV Fresh-certified FreshForward product, in the past twelve months. The launch of the expanded, dedicated pharmaceutical hub will double Abu Dhabi Airport’s cool chain storage capacity and enhance the airport’s capabilities for the storage, handling and transportation of cool chain products.
"Etihad Cargo is proud to have collaborated closely with Etihad Airport Services and Abu Dhabi Airports to launch the new pharmaceutical storage and handling facility. The expanded infrastructure will offer best-in-class pharmaceutical shipment solutions to Etihad Cargo’s customers and is the latest step in supporting Abu Dhabi's vision to cement its position as a global pharmaceuticals and life sciences hub," said Martin Drew, senior vice president global sales and cargo at Etihad Aviation Group. "This joint venture located at Etihad Cargo’s hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport provides the perfect location to link the Middle East to not only Asia and Europe, but also the US and Africa, so life-saving medicines and the latest treatments can be transported seamlessly around the world to those that need them the most. Investment into the carrier's infrastructure and Abu Dhabi hub will enable Etihad Cargo to meet the future challenges of the pharma supply chain and will play a significant role in co-creating a robust and future-proof healthcare ecosystem here in the UAE and around the world."
The additional 3,000 square-meter facility comprises the latest technology and features, including bulk loading docks with levelers, high-speed roll-up shutters, insulation and a real-time temperature monitoring system, which will enable faster and more efficient loading with stricter temperature controls, increased storage space, additional build-up and breakdown zones for improved production workflows and upgraded cool chain facilities for Etihad Cargo's PharmaLife handling and storage operations. The new facility will also feature new x-ray screening for customs inspections within a fully temperature-controlled environment and new dedicated thermal covers.
Steven Polmans, vice president of business development and regulatory affairs at Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone (ADAFZ) said, "The upcoming launch of this dedicated pharmaceuticals storage and handling facility will enhance AUH’s capabilities as a cargo hub and aligns with Abu Dhabi's vision of becoming a global business, pharmaceutical and life science hub. The strong collaboration between Etihad Cargo, Etihad Airport Services and Abu Dhabi Airports will continue to increase pharmaceutical cargo volumes and further position Abu Dhabi as a major solutions provider in the logistics supply chain."
The new cool chain facility will enable the safe storage and handling of a vast range of pharmaceutical products requiring different temperatures and conditions. To meet the requirements for transporting dangerous goods in frozen and deep-frozen conditions, PharmaLife provides premium tailored solutions to handle temperature-controlled conditions from -80 to 25 degrees Celsius via the carrier's portfolio of leased active and hybrid containers. Etihad Cargo also utilizes traditional containers that meet standard temperature requirements, from 2 to 8 and 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.
Jubran Al Breiki, general manager at Etihad Airport Services – ground and cargo, said, "This state-of-the-art pharmaceutical facility has been made possible through the partnership between Etihad Airport Services, Etihad Cargo and Abu Dhabi Airports and the expertise each brings to a project of this scale. In addition to offering a fully equipped pharmaceuticals center, temperature-controlled rooms and 24/7 end-to-end cargo support, the innovative systems within the facility enable pharmaceuticals to be effectively tracked and traced. This benefits Etihad Cargo's customers and all other stakeholders with greater transparency, real-time status updates and makes the transportation of cargo quicker and more efficient."
From the newly established pharmaceuticals hub, Etihad Cargo will continue to work closely with customers and partners to ensure the smooth, efficient, safe and on-time delivery of pharmaceuticals and life sciences products. To meet the requirements of personalized medication and treatment, including cell and gene therapies, Etihad Cargo is exploring the utilization of artificial intelligence to improve forecasting and automation to enhance the carrier's current capacity and capabilities.
Via the expanded cool chain facility, Etihad Cargo will also be further investing in sustainable solutions to make the transportation of pharmaceuticals more environmentally friendly, in line with Etihad Aviation Group's sustainability plans and pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The carrier has already replaced 3,000 containers from its original aluminum unit load device (ULD) fleet with a more environmentally friendly, lightweight version. More recently, Etihad Cargo entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with B Medical Systems to develop and launch the world's first airline-specific passive temperature-controlled container. In the coming months, Etihad Cargo will be participating in Pharma. Aero's green pharma lane project, expanding on the successful launch of Pharma Corridor 2.0.