Abu Dhabi prepares to launch state-of-the-art cool chain site


Etihad Cargo, Etihad Airport Services and Abu Dhabi Airports are preparing to launch a new pharmaceutical cool chain facility which will significantly expand capacity at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Etihad Cargo’s customers will gain expanded CEIV Pharma-certified space and temperature-controlled solutions across its global network.

The additional 3,000sq m facility comprises the latest technology and features, including bulk loading docks with levellers, high-speed roll-up shutters, insulation and a real-time temperature monitoring system, which will enable faster and more efficient loading with stricter temperature controls.

It will also feature new X-ray screening for customs inspections within a fully temperature-controlled environment and new dedicated thermal covers.

In the past 12 months Etihad Cargo transported over 50,000 tonnes of cool chain products, including pharmaceutical and healthcare on its PharmaLife and CEIV-certified FreshForward services. The dedicated pharma hub will double Abu Dhabi Airport’s cool chain storage capacity and enhance the airport’s capabilities.

PharmaLife provides solutions from -80 to 25°C using active and hybrid along with traditional containers for temperatures of 2 to 8°C and 15 to 25°C.

Senior vice president global sales and cargo at Etihad Aviation Group, Martin Drew, said: “The expanded infrastructure will offer best-in-class pharmaceutical shipment solutions to Etihad Cargo’s customers and is the latest step in supporting Abu Dhabi’s vision to cement its position as a global pharmaceuticals and life sciences hub.

“This joint venture located at Etihad Cargo’s hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport provides the perfect location to link the Middle East to not only Asia and Europe, but also the US and Africa, so life-saving medicines and the latest treatments can be transported seamlessly around the world to those that need them the most.

“Investment into the carrier’s infrastructure and Abu Dhabi hub will enable Etihad Cargo to meet the future challenges of the pharma supply chain and will play a significant role in co-creating a robust and future-proof healthcare ecosystem here in the UAE and around the world.”

Vice president of business development and regulatory affairs at Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone (ADAFZ), Steven Polmans, added: “The upcoming launch of this dedicated pharmaceuticals storage and handling facility will enhance AUH’s capabilities as a cargo hub and aligns with Abu Dhabi’s vision of becoming a global business, pharmaceutical and life science hub. The strong collaboration between Etihad Cargo, Etihad Airport Services and Abu Dhabi Airports will continue to increase pharmaceutical cargo volumes and further position Abu Dhabi as a major solutions provider in the logistics supply chain.”

General manager for ground and cargo at Etihad Airport Services, Jubran Al Breiki, pointed out: “In addition to offering a fully equipped pharmaceuticals centre, temperature-controlled rooms and 24/7 end-to-end cargo support, the innovative systems within the facility enable pharmaceuticals to be effectively tracked and traced. This benefits Etihad Cargo’s customers and all other stakeholders with greater transparency, real-time status updates and makes the transportation of cargo quicker and more efficient.”

To meet the requirements of personalised medication and treatment, including cell and gene therapies, Etihad Cargo is exploring the utilisation of artificial intelligence to improve forecasting and automation to enhance the carrier’s current capacity and capabilities.

It will also invest further in sustainable solutions to make the transportation of pharmaceuticals more environmentally friendly, in line with Etihad Aviation Group’s sustainability plans and pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. It has already replaced 3,000 containers from its original ULD fleet with a more environmentally friendly, lightweight version and has signed a memorandum of understanding with B Medical Systems to develop and launch the world’s first airline-specific passive temperature-controlled container.

In the coming months, Etihad Cargo will be participating in Pharma. Aero’s green pharma lane project, expanding on the successful launch of Pharma Corridor 2.0.


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