Summer 2023

Pharma handling interview: Menzies Aviation

Alan Glen, Menzies

Q&A with Alan Glen, VP for cargo development

How has pharma business shaped up for Menzies over the past year?
Our air cargo network has grown over the past year from 58 locations at the start of 2022 to 74 today. Our facilities have varying degrees of cold chain capabilities, which is mainly driven by market requirements and trade flow for handling pharmaceuticals. We add to our capabilities based on our airline customer requirements and as pharma investment can be significant, there needs to be a clear business requirement.

As a global air cargo services provider, we have the capability to handle all types of cargo. We did a lot of preparation to handle Covid-19 vaccine shipments and the experience of handling the vaccines reaffirmed that the well-established trade lanes are well served in terms of specialist pharma handling.

Have you taken any steps/investment to beef up your capabilities in this arena over the past year, or is anything planned for 2023?
We have several new warehouses in development around the world. How we develop the facilities will be determined by market demand. In Europe for example, we are awaiting certification for a facility to process pharmaceuticals.

What about CEIV certification? Are you adding to your tally of CEIV-certified stations? How useful/important is this?

We were successful in gaining the IATA CEIV accreditation at our cargo facilities in London Heathrow, Budapest, Sydney and Melbourne. We chose these locations due to market demand and we have another facility in Europe which is close to being certified.

The accreditation is recognised by customers as strengthening the supply chain by providing confidence to manufacturers, freight forwarders and carriers that products will be appropriately handled in line with the regulations. It gives confidence in the handling process but only makes sense where there is a steady demand. The audit requirements are stringent and it takes a lot of effort to qualify and maintain the accreditation.

What are the biggest challenges in handling pharma and healthcare traffic going forward?
Sustainability is the cornerstone of Menzies’ growth agenda. Our “All In” plan works towards a fair and sustainable future and we are making progress on delivering against it. Making cargo warehouses more sustainable and efficient is one aspect of the plan. For pharma specifically, cold rooms can use a lot of energy. We have a number of facilities where solar energy is utilised and we monitor demand so we don’t have cold rooms sitting empty and using unnecessary energy. When developing new cold chain facilities, we ask ourselves how efficient the equipment is, where the power comes from, can we generate our own sustainable power?

How good are data flows about this traffic? Is Menzies getting shipment information in a timely manner, especially when there may be an issue with ambient conditions of an incoming shipment?
Some progress is being made on data flows between parties but more needs to be done so we can utilise technology to continuously monitor temperatures in shipments. We have seen pharma shippers improve their packaging so goods can be handled with less risk.