Cargo Handling

Swissport receives IATA CEIV Pharma certificate in Basel

Swissport Basel was officially awarded the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) CEIV Pharma certification last night – the cargo handler’s 6th station to be certified.

IATA’s head of cargo, Glyn Hughes (pictured above right) presented the certificate to Swissport’s chief commercial officer, Nils Knudsen (above left) at the company’s Basel EuroAirport warehouse during a media event.

Knudsen said the handler has achieved a lot at EuroAirport with the CEIV certificate and strong growth and he thanked customers like Qatar Airways Cargo, who he said without, Swissport would not have been able to grow and reach these milestones in Basel.

Knudsen hailed the growth in Basel which has become something of a pharma specialist hub and a key European station for Swissport, one of the leading players in the handling sector.

He said in 2009 the handler was almost non-existent in Basel and there was question marks of its cargo future at the Swiss airport, although it has had a thriving presence in the ground handling sector, and is now serving about 7.5 million passengers.

But he said in 2012 he led a push for investment to be made in Basel and said the CEIV certificate and new warehouse for him “closes the circle”. In reference to the Basel warehouse, he said: “This place (Basel) is unique. We have not seen anything like this – it is top of the league.”

Knudsen said pharma is a key vertical for Swissport and it will continue to invest where it sees the opportunity and requirement to meet market needs.

The centre of Swissport’s operations in Basel is a new high-tech warehouse opened in 2015 to meet the growing needs and demands of the pharma market which is thriving and continues to expand in the Basel region of Switzerland and is home to many of the world’s biggest pharma players.

The handler has continuously invested in the site which features a 7,500 square metre temperature-controlled storage with a temperature range of +15 to +25 degrees Celsius.

Additionally, there are special cooling units for pharma shipments including one unit for +2 to +8 degrees Celsius freight and another unit is for -20 degrees Celsius.

After presenting the certificate to Knudsen, Hughes said CEIV is air cargo’s “collaborative and collective commitment” to the pharma market in making sure there are no temperature deviations in shipments and that freight is handled to the highest standards possible.

He said there are now 220 IATA CEIV Pharma certified entities around the globe and demand for the certificate is not slowing down and is only increasing.

Hughes said the number of supply chain operators with CEIV will keep on rising and as a result the industry will have a “much higher” level of pharma handling. “There is an increase in volumes at CEIV certified stations. They are seeing growth in pharma,” he added.

Swissport itself continues to see strong cargo growth at its Basel station and in 2017 it handled about 4,000 tonnes a month (about 6,000 shipments) and 47,000 tonnes over the year, up nearly 10 per cent on 2016.

This year it is forecasting tonnage growth of 3.6 per cent in Basel. Exports make up about two thirds of the tonnage and imports the remaining third.

Swissport says it can move pharma shipments in Basel within an average of two minutes from its temperature-controlled warehouse to aircraft on the apron.

During the media tour, journalists and Swissport customers were also shown the turnaround (pictured left) of a Qatar Airways Cargo Airbus A330 service that landed at about 21:00h in Basel from Doha.

The freighter was then loaded with a payload consisting of mainly pharma freight, but also dangerous goods, which were then flown to Doha and then much of the payloads to destinations across the globe via the carrier’s expansive network.

Qatar Airways Cargo first launched a twice a week schedule of ‘pharma express’ freighters from EuroAirport to Doha in January 2015, but due to rising demand upped the frequency and now operates the A330 four times a week.

EuroAirport’s €40 million 21,000 square metre Cargo Terminal went into service in January 2015 and not only houses Swissport, but also the likes of DHL, WFS, Cargologic, ACL and other operators.

Other carriers’ operating into the gateway include Korean Air Cargo once a week with a Boeing 757F into Incheon, Iberia once a week with a B757F to Madrid, Turkish Cargo once a week using an A300F to Istanbul.

EuroAirport is also somewhat of an express freight hub with DHL, TNT and UPS running regular freighter rotations and express made up 47,000 tonnes of the 112,000 moved through the airport in 2017. Pharma made up 30 per cent of the total tonnage.