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Greta Thornberg: What she could mean for shipping pharma by air?

AS the 'extinction rebellion' craze continues, air freight carriers will feel more pressure to seek alternative fuels and replace older planes with newer models, said the American Journal of Transportation in a commentary

02 February 2020 - 19:00

AS the 'extinction rebellion' craze continues, air freight carriers will feel more pressure to seek alternative fuels and replace older planes with newer models, said the American Journal of Transportation in a commentary.

Carriers and their logistics partners will also need to elevate their brand image by demonstrating they are adopting eco-friendly practices such as reusable or waste-stream friendly shipping containers made from recyclable materials, it said.



Airfreight remains the predominant mode of transportation for moving life-saving pharmaceuticals around the globe, especially for the most valuable and sensitive therapies that require strict temperature control.



Sea transport, accounting for approximately 20 per cent of pharmaceutical shipments, made gains in recent years as an alternative transport mode for non-temperature sensitive products and the return of containers after payloads have reached their destination.



However, for the foreseeable future, pharmaceutical companies will remain reliant on airfreight for transportation of products that could succumb to temperature excursions.



'Declining air freight demand combine to produce a double whammy for the pharmaceutical industry. As air freight capacity becomes an even more precious and dwindling resource, there are things that can be done to mitigate reduced capacity.' said the AJOT commentary.



'For example, temperature-controlled packaging systems will need to step more into the foreground to reduce volumetric weight, providing higher performing insulation and phase change materials that can considerably improve volumetric efficiency,' it said.



After years of wrangling over the details of Bruit, the UK is departing from the European Union (EU) - and entering a transition period through the end of 2020.



'The effects of Bruit and the fact that Germany only narrowly avoided an official recession at the end of the last decade have been driving down European air freight demand. Furthermore, US tariffs aimed at four countries in retaliation over subsidies to Airbus has hit Germany especially hard,' the report said.



Meanwhile, the US-China trade war began to thaw with the signing of an initial trade deal. But trading data showed the climate would have to improve significantly to combat the year-on-year 8.1 declines in freight tonne kilometres experienced in 2019.2 per cent.



Price is the crudest and quickest tool at air freight's disposal to address diminishing demand. However, long-term price cutting is not sustainable and in the face of continued change, air freight companies will have no choice but to cut flights from their schedules and mothball aircraft - and cease to exercise purchasing options that did not factor in declining demand.



'The good news is that cold chain consultants have the tools and resources to streamline this new approach. Packaging products have been engineered and tested to incorporate operational consistency and simplicity that might otherwise make it too complex to deploy. Networks and services have also been developed and deployed to enable efficient and reliable outsourcing of operations,' said AJOT.


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