To achieve further growth, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol needs to target new markets. One of Schiphol’s ambitions is to position itself as the European hub for the pharmaceutical industry. Jonas Stekelenburg, Cargo director of Schiphol Group, explains why.
Air freight accounts for a quarter of Schiphol’s contribution’to the countrý’s GDP And of the 1.6 million tonnes handled annually, nearly five percent comprises pharmaceutical products. Add to this the high value and volumn density of pharmaceutical products and the conclusion is clear: the handling of pharmaceuticals is profitable. Reason for Schiphol Group to further expand the Pharma Gateway Amsterdam programme, launched earlier this year with the aim of making Schiphol the preferred airport for pharmaceuticals. According to Van Stekelenburg, all the elements are present to facilitate further expansion. “Schiphol is a high-quality airport with an outstanding network of destinations and hinterland connections. And it has an excellent reputation in terms of quickly handling freight, also when customs clearance comes into play.” What helps is that thirteen parties, including KLM, handling company DNATA, freight agent VCK Logistics and carrier Nouwens are closely involved in this pioneering initiative. That Schiphol Group is taking the lead is not surprising. Stekelenburg:”As the airport operator, Schiphol Group stands above the parties and focuses on the general interests of the airport on the whole.”
When asked about the status of Pharma Gateway Amsterdam, Van Stekelenburg replies that bidding parties must first become IATA-certified. “Within the air freight sector, the pharma segment has strigent and specific demands in terms of handling. Through the certification, the party proves that it is capable to receive and handle pharmaceuticals and that it has implemented the required checks to guarentee quality. Important, because the pharmaceutical industry wants to increase its control over how their products are shipped across the world: safely and well-cared for. But they also want to know exactly where the cargo is at the click of a mouse. As Pharma Gateway Amsterdam, we aim to deliver on that promise.”
Schiphol Group is currently still working hard on improvements though, continues Van Stekelenburg. “Bringing the quality and transparency up to standard through a quality programme and IT systems is relatively straightforward when one player is involved. But things become more complicated when various parties are transferring pharmaceutical products to each other. What matters is a uniform, constant quality, but also the sharing of underlying data.”Van Stekelenburg however is fully confident about a positive outcome. “We have proven that we can achieve goals as a community. Recently, we managed to reduce the number of airside import-truck movements by 30%. The Schiphol cargo community also played a key role in that success.”