Pharma Focus Asia
Klöckner Pentaplast - Pentapharm® alfoil® films


A dedicated cold chain services


Singapore Airlines Cargo focuses on various industry verticals i.e. airmail, charter services, perishables and live animal transportation etc. How do you drive your company towards greater innovation and stay updated to the ever-changing/evolving market needs?

SIA: Apart from keeping abreast of the recent developments in the market, we also actively reach out to our customers to understand their needs and preferences, and learn more about their latest developments. In addition, we participate in trade conferences and community-based events to exchange ideas and learn from our industry partners.

Please enlighten us with the key features of your new product'THRUCOOL'.

SIA: THRUCOOL offers dedicated cold chain services and strives to provide the highest quality handling for time-sensitive and temperature-controlled pharmaceutical shipments to maintain their integrity throughout air transportation. The launch of THRUCOOL is driven by SIA’s awareness about the importance of pharmaceuticals to the broader community and the growing complexity in their handling requirements. From the launch of the COOLRIDER product in 2000, to becoming the first airline in Asia-Pacific to be awarded the IATA CEIV PharmaCertification in 2017, pharmaceuticals has always been one of SIA’s key verticals.

To achieve the objectives of THRUCOOL, SIA partnered with SATS, Cargologic and Qantas Freight to launch a ‘quality corridor’ along the Zurich-Singapore-Sydney route as an initial offering. The partners were inducted after meeting the stringent criteria set by our pharma quality team, based on standards adopted from IATA ‘s CEIV Pharma programme. This ensures that the quality of our pharmaceutical handling remains consistent, safe and secure throughout its journey. The quality corridor is set to expand to other key export and import markets from 2019 onwards to further strengthen the THRUCOOL product.

As part of THRUCOOL’s offerings, thermal covers are implemented on mix-loaded shipments as an additional layer of protection from external factors to prevent temperature excursions during carriage. Active tracking devices, which allow for real-time monitoring of shipments’ location and temperature are approved for carriage on all SIA flights. SIA has also been working closely with SATS to identify hotspots and tighten the operational gaps in the Singapore hub’s handling processes.

The launch of THRUCOOL reassures SIA customers of our commitment to handle pharmaceuticals with utmost care and reliability. THRUCOOL serves as a platform to constantly seek out innovative ideas to enhance our service offering.

How do you meet the exact requirements of your customers while transporting life-saving pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments via THRUCOOL?

SIA: Firstly, we work closely with our customers to ensure that the requirements (especially storage conditions) of the pharma shipments are communicated clearly during the booking stage and stated clearly on the airway bills. This reduces the possibility of mishandling as a result of unclear instruction to our ground handling agents.

Secondly, and most importantly, we work closely with our ground handling agents across our network to understand their facilities, capabilities and processes, to ensure that they are able to handle these life-saving pharma shipments. If gaps are identified, we will work with them to address these gaps either by tightening the handling processes or formulating mitigation efforts to reduce or eliminate the impact of the gaps. Furthermore, with a good understanding of our network capabilities, we are able to better advise our customers on the service level expected at origin and destination.

Transporting pharmaceutical and healthcare products through THRUCOOL demands a rigorous logistics approach. What are the special precautions that you take for Pharmaceutical and healthcare transportation?

SIA: Since the launch of THRUCOOL, we have identified hotspots, where temperature excursions are most likely to happen, across our supply chain and worked hard to address them. We tightened the handling process to reduce the shipment’s time exposure at tarmac and implemented thermal covers for selected shipments in specific lanes to reduce the possibility of temperature excursions.

What is the most in-demand segment for Singapore Airlines Cargo?

SIA: Much like the healthcare segment, our perishables accounts have seen healthy volumes benefitting from our cold chain capabilities which ensure that our shippers’ produce stay fresh and uncompromised throughout their journey with us.

What steps you take to ensure delivery with highest standard for your pharmaceutical-related shipment?

SIA: We have an in-house training programme on pharma to ensure that our staff are adequately trained to provide the required support for pharma shipments. Furthermore, we have a pharma representative from each of the regions serving to drive the development of pharma handling.

What all it takes for you to provide unbroken cold chain transportation from origin to destination?

SIA: Teamwork and communication. Each party (from the shipper, agent, carrier, ground handling agent and consignee) has to work together and communicate effectively.

Do you provide consignment status to your customers while using THRUCOOL? What all details are included in the status report?

SIA: Customers can find out the consignment statuses of their shipments with ease by using our track and trace service that is available online.

In the next three years, which geography will provide the maximum revenue contribution for Singapore Airlines Cargo?

SIA: Currently, Europe is the biggest contributor and we expect it to continue in the next three years. However, we are confident on the growth of Singapore, Australia and India in the coming years.

--Issue 34--

Author Bio


Ms Ong has extensive experience in the air cargo industry across key strategic and commercial roles where she oversaw profit optimisation across SIA’s cargo network, and managed regional sales performance in China, Southwest Pacific, and Singapore.

She now focuses on establishing partnership programmes for key accounts and driving vertical offerings and revenue across targeted industry segments.

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