Global Air Cargo Trends Re-Shaping Pharmaceutical Transport

Global Air Cargo Trends Re-Shaping Pharmaceutical Transport

By Dominic Hyde, Vice President of Crēdo on Demand Pelican BioThermal

As we welcome the new decade and the exciting advances it is expected to unleash, many of the forces that shaped the past decade for transporting pharmaceuticals will continue. Price pressures, alternatives to air freight and increasing automation are just a few. However, there are emerging trends that make 2020 unique. 

As we look forward, these are the air cargo trends expected to shape the transport of pharmaceuticals in 2020 and beyond.

The Greta Thunberg Effect — Flying Shame
We can’t ignore the effect that climate change activist Greta Thunberg is having on air travel that runs on fossil fuels. Thunberg’s reliance on trains to travel from her home country of Sweden to other countries in Europe connected by rail has triggered a material effect on passenger numbers in Sweden.

Global Trade Pressures Drive Down Air Freight Demand
After years of wrangling over the details of Brexit, the UK is departing from the European Union (EU) — and entering a transition period through the end of 2020. The effects of Brexit and the fact that Germany only narrowly avoided an official recession at the end of the last decade have been driving down European air freight demand. Furthermore, US tariffs aimed at four counties in retaliation over subsidies to Airbus has hit Germany especially hard.

Diminished Air Freight Demand Means Reduced Capacity
Air freight remains the predominant mode of transportation for moving life-saving pharmaceuticals around the globe, especially for the most valuable and sensitive therapies that require strict temperature control. Sea transport, accounting for approximately 20% of pharmaceutical shipments, made gains in recent years as an alternative transport mode for non-temperature sensitive products and the return of containers after payloads have reached their destination. However, for the foreseeable future, pharmaceutical companies will remain reliant on air freight for transportation of products that could succumb to temperature excursions. 

Pharmaceutical Packaging: No Longer Rickshaw Vs. Tank
When it comes to pharmaceutical packaging, one size does not fit all — nor should it. The days of choosing between a rickshaw or a tank are behind us. Pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers have broadened their product portfolios to enable the most efficient solutions to be selected, qualified and deployed on a lane-by-lane basis across truly global supply chains. Making the right selections and performing the necessary qualifications can be daunting compared to the old simplicity of “I’ll have a tank everywhere.” But this is the challenge we must face to deliver value and make responsible use of dwindling resources such as global air freight capacity. 

The good news is that cold chain consultants have the tools and resources to streamline this new approach. Packaging products have been engineered and tested to incorporate operational consistency and simplicity that might otherwise make it too complex to deploy. Networks and services have also been developed and deployed to enable efficient and reliable outsourcing of operations. 

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