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Emirates opens cold-chain pharma facility at Dubai Airport

Steve Rogerson
September 28, 2016

Emirates SkyCargo last week officially opened a purpose-built facility dedicated exclusively to the timely and secure transport of temperature sensitive pharmaceutical shipments at Dubai International Airport.
Called Emirates SkyPharma, it is part of the new 11,000 square metre extension of Emirates SkyCentral terminal at the airport. It provides 4000 square metres of space dedicated to pharmaceutical cargo with temperature controlled zones (2-8ËšC and 15-25ËšC), 88 temperature controlled individual positions in the automated aircraft pallet handling system, and five temperature controlled acceptance and delivery truck docks.
“Pharmaceuticals are one of the most important products we transport because of the impact on people’s lives and communities across the world,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates senior vice president. “As a leader in the global air cargo industry we decided that it was not only important for us to build state-of-the-art cool chain facilities for the transport of pharma products but to also go the extra mile and ensure the compliance of our operations against the highest international standards. Our customers can continue to rest easy knowing that shipping their high-value and temperature-sensitive goods with Emirates SkyCargo is a safe and efficient choice for their business and end customers.”
Emirates SkyCargo has also been awarded the certification of compliance under the EU Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guidelines for medicinal products for human use by Bureau Veritas following an audit conducted by the certification agency’s team from Germany. The certification validates the carrier’s adherence to the strict guidelines on the transport and handling of pharmaceutical products and covers all Emirates SkyCargo handling activities for pharmaceutical products at its hub in Dubai.
Emirates SkyCargo is the first cargo airline in the world that has obtained GDP certification for its hub operations covering two airports and the round-the-clock bonded trucking service that connects cargo between them. The carrier also operates the largest GDP certified area in the world offering a total area of 8600 square metres of combined handling space dedicated for pharmaceutical products at Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central.
The GDP guidelines outlined by the European Commission have been designed to ensure that the quality and integrity of pharmaceutical products are maintained during transportation. As part of its audit process, Bureau Veritas scrutinised all aspects of the handling and storage of pharmaceutical shipments through SkyCargo’s dual hubs in Dubai to ensure compliance with GDP guidelines on a number of subjects including quality management, product integrity, security and training of staff handling pharmaceutical products.
“Throughout the audit process, we found strong evidence of Emirates SkyCargo’s commitment across all levels to delivering high quality and secure transportation for pharmaceutical products,” said Ahmad Chaouk, vice president at Bureau Veritas. “We are pleased to certify Emirates SkyCargo’s facilities at Dubai International airport, at Dubai World Central and the bonded road service between its hubs as GDP compliant.”
The new SkyPharma facility at the airport works with Emirates SkyCentral DWC, the carrier’s freighter hub in Dubai World Central that offers 4600 square metres of dedicated area for pharmaceutical cargo. Both facilities complement the range of cool chain products and services offered by Emirates SkyCargo including the Cool Dolly, the White Container and White Cover Advanced, all of which are designed to prevent temperature fluctuations or spikes from occurring during any part of the transportation process.
In 2015 Emirates SkyCargo shipped close to 11,000 tonnes of pharmaceutical products across its global network through its hub in Dubai. The top pharmaceutical products shipped include critical medication for diabetes and cancer, active pharmaceutical ingredients, blood derivatives, and vaccines.
Emirates SkyCargo claims to be the largest international airline cargo operator in the world connecting cargo customers to over 150 cities across 82 countries in six continents. Its cargo hold capacity comprises Emirates’ fleet of more than 250 aircraft, including 15 freighters – 13 Boeing 777-Fs and two B747-400ERFs.
The 2015-16 financial year was a strong one for Emirates SkyCargo with a six per cent increase in airfreight uplifted to 2.5 million tonnes. Contributing 14 per cent of the airline’s total transport revenue, Emirates SkyCargo continues to play an integral role in the company’s expanding operations.
Emirates SkyPharma was officially inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group. His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al Owais, UAE’s minister of health, and His Excellency Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qatami, director-general of Dubai Health Authority, were also present at the opening ceremony.