An IATA project in Hong Kong has highlighted the value of best-in-class temperature-controlled cargo services.

cargo temperature

In 2017, the air cargo market grew 9.0%, the strongest performance since 2010. Business confidence is high, and expectations are for 4.5% growth in 2018, still ahead of capacity increases.

Two huge markets are helping to drive these figures: pharmaceuticals and perishables. Being competitive in these sectors necessitates state-of-the-art solutions for ensuring the integrity of time and temperature-sensitive cargo.

Airport operator, Airport Authority Hong Kong was quick to realize the value of pharmaceutical and perishables trade. In the past four years, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) experienced an annual 12% growth in pharma tonnage. HKIA’s growth rate for pharma tonnage is expected to reach over 16% per annum from 2016 to 2023. To support the growth, there will be continued investment in cold chain facilities, for instance, by investing HK$16 million to purchase 21 more cool dollies. Cool dollies maintain pharmaceutical products at their specified temperatures against the ambient temperature during ramp transportation.

In addition, HKIA has more than 5,000m2 of cold room storage in its three cargo terminals, which provide dedicated rooms at a range of temperatures from -20C to 25C catering to the specific needs of different pharmaceutical products.

To further progress HKIA’s cold chain efforts, in 2017 it engaged IATA to conduct a Temperature Controlled Cargo Study at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

The project was conducted in multiple stages. To begin with, a commodity forecast took into consideration global pharmaceutical and perishable market developments as well as data and insights from stakeholders. This was part of a holistic modelling approach to determine total temperature-sensitive cargo tonnage up to 2035. 

In the second stage, multiple stakeholder interviews were conducted to determine not only the current conditions from the client’s perspective but also to provide a forum for an open exchange of ideas and solutions beneficial to the community as a whole.

IATA then examined existing temperature-controlled cargo operations and compared them with best-in-class industry benchmarks, with a clear focus on best practice, facilities, equipment, and technology that would be applicable to HKIA.

In a final stage, based on the above inputs, IATA developed functional requirements and design options for multiple potential solutions for HKIA to implement. These were ranked to provide HKIA’s management with solid competitive intelligence and to help them meet their company’s vision and goals.

Pharmaceutical air cargo shipments has a strong market outlook, and this certification serves a testimony of HKIA’s dedication in continuously enhancing its air cargo facilities for even higher efficiency and reliability

All solutions ensure HKIA remains a world-class temperature-controlled solutions provider and give the facility the scalability and flexibility it needs to handle the dynamic growth anticipated in the next two decades. HKIA is now certified by IATA as a partner airport of IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma).

“Being the world’s busiest cargo airport since 2010 and handling over five million tonnes of cargo and airmail in 2017, HKIA strives to maintain its leadership status as an international aviation and cargo hub in terms of both volume and value,” said Fred Lam, Chief Executive Officer of Airport Authority Hong Kong on the announcement of HKIA’s CEIV Pharma certification. “Pharmaceutical air cargo shipments has a strong market outlook, and this certification serves a testimony of HKIA’s dedication in continuously enhancing its air cargo facilities for even higher efficiency and reliability. I would like to express my gratitude to our business partners for their tremendous contributions over the years. Our airport could not have achieved this certification without them.”