IATA’s CEIV programme supports excellence in the transport and handling of special cargo products. Here, Satu Dahl explores how the air cargo industry is keen to become involved with this invaluable initiative.

    Beginning with the launch of CEIV Pharma in 2014 for the transportation of temperature-sensitive healthcare shipments, IATA’s Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) programme currently consists of three specific certifications: CEIV Pharma, CEIV Live Animals and CEIV Fresh.

    The CEIV Pharma certification ensures that all facilities, equipment, operations and staff in the certified organisations comply with the expected standards, regulations and guidelines. The next addition to the programme, CEIV Live Animals, was launched in 2018, with Air Canada Cargo and London’s Heathrow Animal Reception Centre playing a key role in piloting the programme. According to the association, the new certification establishes baseline standards to improve the level of competency, infrastructure and quality management in the handling and transportation of live animals.

    Volga Dnepr

    The latest certification, CEIV Fresh was announced in March last year and aims to improve the handling and the transportation of perishable products by air. “Perishable goods is a growing market for air cargo,” notes IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Ensuring that these delicate and short shelf-life products reach the customer unspoiled with minimal waste and loss is essential. Shippers will have assurance that CEIV Fresh-certified companies are operating to the highest quality and standards in the transport of perishable products.”

    The association’s global head of cargo Glyn Hughes says IATA took a community approach when developing CEIV Fresh, recognising that alignment of many stakeholders was required. “Shippers can have peace of mind knowing that every entity handling their goods is operating to the same standard.” Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals were the first operators to successfully complete the world’s first CEIV Fresh certification.

    Building a strong foundation

    So how is the adoption of these three areas of certification progressing within the air cargo industry? IATA says its CEIV Pharma programme has certainly gained momentum and global recognition over time.

    “The introduction of CEIV Pharma came at a time when the air cargo industry was grappling with significant quality issues, such as frequent temperature excursions, pertaining to the handling and transportation of pharmaceutical products. Each of these CEIV programmes has been introduced with air cargo industry stakeholders in mind. Over the years, IATA has adapted the CEIV programmes based on feedback to ensure that the audits remained relevant and facilitated the improvements introduced in the industry,” according to an association spokesperson.

    The association confirms that more than 300 organisations globally from different parts of the supply chain have been certified across the three CEIV programmes to date. The main objective of the programmes has always been to elevate the quality in air cargo.

    “An organisation that takes the decision to undergo the certification recognises that the CEIV programmes are a key differentiator, which allows them to highlight the additional effort they have taken to improve their service quality but, more importantly, enhance the experience for their customers,” IATA explains. According to the association, CEIV-certified organisations observe positive business improvements, clearly demonstrating one of the merits of the programme.

    Increasing trade lanes for pharma

    One of the major successes of the CEIV programmes has been the concept of airport communities. “From the first CEIV Pharma airport community in Brussels, there are now 24 airport communities globally,” confirms IATA, with several others pursuing discussions to be CEIV-certified.

    The wide adoption of the programmes has contributed to the development of pharma ‘trade lanes’, which are routes between a pair of airports where a significant proportion of organisations have been certified. Such trade lanes help to build trust in the supply chain of various different routes.

    Miami International Airport is a great example of an air cargo community that has come together to achieve excellence when it comes to pharma. Six members of the community have completed the CEIV Pharma certification, including two airline carriers, two ground-handling companies and two international
    freight forwarders.

    Miami International Airport, CEIV

    Dimitrios Nares, section chief of marketing at Miami-Dade Aviation Department, notes that during the current Covid-19 pandemic it is even more critical for life-altering and life-saving medicines to be safely transported. He adds that there is a massive pent-up global demand for air shipment of vaccines once they have
    been developed.

    “We have had two consecutive years of over 15 million kilos of pharmaceutical cargo transported through our airport during 2018 and 2019 and with our CEIV Pharma-certified community, an extensive air route network, plus more on-airport refrigerated cooler space than any other airport in the US – approximately 41,000 square metres – we at MIA are well positioned now and in the future to safely handle even greater critical pharma shipments”, notes Nares.

    When it comes to logistics companies, DHL Global Forwarding announced in July that the company had been recertified to the CEIV Pharma standard globally. Thomas Mack, the company’s head of global air freight, comments that a resilient and highly efficient transport network tailored to the specific needs of the life sciences and healthcare industry has never been more crucial than today.

    Nina Heinz, global head of network and quality of temperature management solutions at DHL Global Forwarding, says that for years the number of industry regulations and requirements has been steadily increasing, especially regarding product transportation and storage.

    “Although we at DHL have been a leader in ideas and innovation in the industry for a long time, we recognise that there is always room to improve. With our renewed IATA CEIV Pharma certification, we are clearly demonstrating our continued emphasis on constantly enhancing our service quality, as well as showcasing that we are a reliable partner for transporting vital and temperature-sensitive products.”

    Covering the full spectrum

    Some cargo operators are also becoming frontrunners in championing the whole certification programme. In March, Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (HACTL) announced it had achieved certification under IATA CEIV Live Animals, resulting in the organisation becoming one of the very first companies to have achieved all three CEIV standards.

    Cathay Pacific CEIV

    Glyn Hughes comments on the achievement: “I would like to congratulate HACTL for their successful attainment of their third CEIV certification and for being one of the first ground handlers to receive the CEIV certification in the area of live animal transportation. Coupled with their CEIV certifications for fresh and pharmaceutical products, this demonstrates HACTL’s commitment to the highest standards of handling excellence for such important commodities. These most sensitive of cargos require the highest quality possible to handle them in a safe, secure and comfortable fashion.”

    HACTL’s quality assurance auditors and trainers attended IATA’s three-day live animals cargo logistics management course in preparation for the audit and the company modified its audit checklists and training materials to comply with the new, higher standards. A review of HACTL’s standard operating procedures also took place, in addition to the company running several staff training and briefing sessions.

    A month later, in April, Turkish Cargo announced that it had become the first air cargo airline to achieve all three CEIV certifications. Having satisfied the requirements for the certifications in the wake of the training, assessment and validation processes created by IATA, the carrier says its objective was to raise the bar in performance and operations related to the transport of special cargo products and to ensure continuous improvement and compliance with the highest standards.

    The airline’s chief cargo officer Turhan Ozen explains: “At a time like this, we see how vital the air cargo industry is for trade all around the world. We really set great store by the IATA CEIV certificates, as they prove that we meet the international standards for our special cargo operations during such a vulnerable and critical period.”

    Adapting for the future

    As IATA points out, the coronavirus crisis has exposed those challenges that the industry faces pertaining to the capacity of organisations to pivot rapidly to the evolving situation, in addition to showing the necessity of having globally aligned and harmonised standards when transporting pharmaceuticals.

    “Being part of such a programme will be a significant advantage in building confidence and trust in a collaborative environment where the integrity of such sensitive products is maintained throughout the handling and transport journey until the products reach their end customers.”

    Air cargo has helped the air transport industry through these uncertain times and, going forward, IATA says it will continue to ensure that its CEIV programmes remain relevant to the needs of the industry and adapt standards and programmes according to the prevailing regulations.

    That way, it can build upon the successful platform of the CEIV programmes to explore the extension of certifications to other critical areas where the air cargo industry faces challenges. One area of concern for IATA’s members for instance is the shipment of lithium batteries. Tackling the problems surrounding conduct, as well as the capacity of supply chain partners, would ultimately address safety issues with the transportation of this particular category of goods.