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Swiss WorldCargo Achieves Complete CEIV Pharma Certification

The successful handling of extremely sensitive and high-value materials takes a team that is able to adhere to rigorous standards. For pharmaceuticals, IATA’s Center for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma certification has been the standard by which all airlines and cargo handlers strictly follow. Attaining this certification is no small feat as independent auditors assess all parts of the supply chain to ensure pharmaceuticals are shipped and handled appropriately.

After extensive review, IATA’s independent auditors recently awarded Swiss WorldCargo certification not just at their hub in Zurich, but complete certification that encompasses the airline’s entire organization. By building on their Zurich hub’s CEIV status award in 2016 and also being recognized by Swiss authorities Swissmedic as GDP Compliant, Swiss WorldCargo has now joined an elite group of airlines who also have this distinction and recognition of complete certification.

To learn more about the company and what attaining this level of certification means, we sat down to speak with Mr. Ashwin Bhat, Head of Cargo; and Ms. Lalin Sabuncuoglu-Jannsen, Regional Director Far East for Swiss WorldCargo.

Swiss Quality

Ms. Lalin Sabuncuoglu-Jannsen

Ms. Sabuncuoglu-Jannsen began by explaining how she was previously in charge of the Europe and Africa regions for Swiss WorldCargo, based in Zurich. In her current function, she oversees the entire Far East region, which is mainly composed of Swiss WorldCargo’s main gateways of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Beijing. In addition to this, Southeast Asia is served through daily flights to Singapore and Bangkok with daily, as well as seasonal flights to Phuket and Saigon. These seasonal flights are operated by Edelweiss, a full subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines, for which Swiss WorldCargo handles cargo capacity and planning.

As of February 2017, Ms. Sabuncuoglu-Jannsen is now based in Singapore, but has in total over 30 years’ experience in the airline industry, including 27 of which she has worked for Swiss International Air Lines. During this time, she has held various commercial positions including Marketing Manager Europe, Area Manager South & West Europe, and Head of Ground Services for SWISS.

Ms. Sabuncuoglu-Jannsen spoke further about working in Asia specifically and how she considers it a vibrant eye opener and motivator through the ‘why not culture.’ She finds herself blessed to work with the power and will of her Asian Team, whom are able to think together and to achieve new goals and find creative solutions.

“In terms of Asian demand and performance, we are growing rapidly in this area with Hong Kong being one of our top destinations overall. However, I can easily say that Thailand did a great job last year and the demand was strong. Our attention is focused and split amongst various gateways throughout the region, but the two biggest sectors we’re placing an emphasis on in 2018 are pharmaceuticals and e-commerce; both of which have a strong demand throughout Asia. That’s why it was so encouraging to receive full CEIV certification throughout our network, we put an emphasis on making a difference with our customers by delivering unique solutions depending on their needs.”

This personal touch that Swiss WorldCargo puts on their interactions with customers is something that’s deeply rooted in what it means to be ‘Swiss.’ They are known for quality and it shows through in much of what they do. They are not a mega carrier trying to fit customers into their pre-determined plans, they are more flexible and able to mold themselves to the needs of their customers. As such, they have developed a knack for specialty products and services. This expertise is being exemplified further in the latest CEIV certification proving their commitment to providing the best for their customers.

Expanding Possibilities

Speaking with Mr. Baht, he explained further how the CEIV certification fits into Swiss WorldCargo’s overarching plan. “We were interested in extending our CEIV certification past our Zurich hub to ensure that our processes and quality expectations are standardized and visible throughout the entire network and are not limited to our hub. In this way, we could also ensure that each of our individual stations and destinations thoroughly complied and adhered to the rigorous standards needed and could certify ourselves as the premier pharma carrier of choice.”

While this type of certification isn’t something that is normally explicitly demanded of by customers, it’s still of the utmost importance for carriers to attain this certification to cater to customer needs and to remain proactive and consistent. “Our customers hold high expectations from us, including that we continue to provide a best-in-class experience for the shipment of pharmaceutical and life science products. To do so, it is paramount that we stay up-to-date in regard to the latest standards of quality shipping and handling. By gaining CEIV certification throughout our network and making concrete efforts to ensure our processes are globally standardized, we can ensure that the certification has been successful.”

Process and Procedures

We were interested to learn more about the actual testing that goes into becoming certified, so asking Swiss WorldCargo to expand further on the processes involved with reaching their goal they explained, “A big part of gaining this certification was the audit which took place. The preparation for this has been ongoing for over a year. When preparing, we made sure that we met a rigorous check-list of items which would be proofed during the audit. The audit itself was done through an independent team of validators and auditors from IATA. This was to ensure that we have the high-quality safety standards which are required to gain the certification. The first part began with intense training and the introduction of specific modules and overviews prepared by our training team which gave an overview of the most important aspects of CEIV. These modules included focuses on temperature monitoring, storage and transport, and appropriate handling of temperature sensitive and specific goods. All of these modules and training we did with our entire staff ensured that everyone directly or indirectly involved in pharma shipments was made aware of our global processes and required a significant amount of time.”

Mr. Ashwin Bhat

“Preparation for everything was detailed and intensive, to ensure that all information was thoroughly captured, but much of this was done in-house, with the help of a dedicated project team, which focused on the different aspects of the certification that we were striving towards and looking to reach. This involved our colleagues from all over the world and different teams working closely and collaborating together. In the end, we came together to help our organization realize our goal to be the premier pharma carrier and to be able to provide substantial services in this domain, which helps to differentiate us from our competitors.”

With their new complete CEIV Pharma certification, Swiss WorldCargo continues to develop their “pharma road-map” further.  By constantly improving their footprint in pharmaceuticals and life sciences sectors, while providing further evidence of their adherence to the most important and strict international regulations and standards for the transportation of pharma shipments, they are proving their dedication to the quality shipment and handling throughout their network for all of their customer’s sensitive cargo.