Brussels Airport is Certifying the Pharma Logistics Chain

Brussels Airport has introduced a dedicated certification program for pharmaceutical logistics as a further step in its ambition to become internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in this niche. “The entire Brucargo community is invited to participate,” says Head of Cargo Steven Polmans.

Brussels Airport Cargo aims at becoming a center of excellence for handling temperature critical products  /  source: BRU
Brussels Airport Cargo aims at becoming a center of excellence for handling temperature critical products / source: BRU

“The objective of this program is to align and standardize the pharma handling processes as well as to train industry stakeholders through the entire cool chain on and around the airport in order to improve the handling of pharmaceutical cargo,” he says. “The companies are lining up to be certified. We have been forced to limit the number of applicants of the first group to 10.” Steven goes on to say that a substantial number of forwarding agents have already signed up for the program, whereas some others still want to know more specifics before deciding whether or not to jump on the pharma band wagon. I press release to make this project public will be sent out in the course of this week, he announced.


Brussels Airport has developed both a common industry format for the auditing process and a checklist. The auditing format is based on the ‘Good Distribution Practices’ (GDP) as required by the pharma shippers. “The exception between our program and the GDP’s is that the latter only apply to warehousing companies, whereas we want to certify all the stakeholders in the pharma logistics chain: shippers, freight forwarders, ground handling companies, truckers and airlines,” says Polmans. “Moreover, GDP’s tend to differ dependent on the individual companies and the specific countries.”

Steven Polmans
Steven Polmans

Apart from the economic operators, government authorities s.a. the Belgian customs organization and the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products have been involved in the drawing up of the certification proposal. The Brussels Airport cargo team is convinced that this chain-wide certification will put the Belgian airport in pole position as a preferred hub for pharma logistics.
In the mid-term run Brussels Airport hopes that the process will be eligible for global recognition. Hopes are high that IATA may offer the necessary support, as a delegation from the organization’s ‘Time and Temperature Task Force’ (TTTF) participated in a dedicated workshop at the airport, as did the Cool Chain Association. “An official recognition from one of the international bodies would provide us with a genuine label,” says Polmans.

Marcel Schoeters

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