Air Cargo Management

ACE23: Cargo community launches to improve air freight operations on Puerto Rico

A new industry group that will represent the leading bioscience manufacturing hub in the US by export volume was launched last week at Air Cargo Europe.

The Puerto Rico Life Sciences Air Cargo Community will support companies from across the supply chain drive up quality of air freight operations on the island.

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers joined the first meeting of the community at ACE 2023 and will sit on the new board, along with representatives from airlines, airports, ground handlers, hauliers, forwarders, and integrators.

Launching the community, David Perez-Larson, business development officer, for the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC), said:

“We will be adopting best practices and striving towards a standardized way of operating, as well as representing and lobbying for the airfreight community with legislators and authorities.

“This is an important collaboration in which we will be working together on tangible projects to ensure a high-quality service for the life sciences community.

“Amongst our plans will be gathering data to support our message to the logistics industry that Puerto Rico is a ‘hidden gem’ in the sector, and we plan to present the first data set this summer.

“We will also be holding training meetings about the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification over coming months as part of ongoing education programs for the workforce and community at large.”

The Community is free to join and open to any Puerto Rico-based company operating in the Life Science and/or airfreight industry.

Board members, which include representatives from the DDEC and Invest Puerto Rico, as well as the Industry University Research Center (INDUNIV), Aerostar Airport Holdings, and the Port Authority of Puerto Rico, are elected for a one-year tenure and will meet every two months to agree on projects and topics to communicate to the logistics industry, as well as legislators and authorities.

The Community will convene twice a year for community meetings organised by the board.

“This is not only about content, bonds in general need to be developed and networking is as important as working on projects,” said Jonas van Stekelenburg, advisor to the community.

The more Community members trust each other and the more members that trust the community, the more we can achieve.”

A number of members have already started the IATA CEIV certification as part of the initiative.

Twelve of the world’s 20 top-grossing pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, and AbbVie, operate on the island, with eight of the 15 globally top-selling biopharmaceutical products manufactured on Puerto Rico.

Twelve out of the top 20 medical devices companies have manufacturing sites on the island, including Medtronic, CooperVision, and Boston Scientific, manufacturing products such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, surgical instruments, lab devices, dental equipment, and vision correction goods.

Puerto Rico has a US Department of Transportation designation as an international air trans-shipment hub, a waiver that allows for unencumbered trans-shipment at the island’s three international airports.

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