Air Freight News

Amerijet handled pharma challenges long before COVID-19

Established and steady within the busyness of pharmaceutical industry logistical challenges is Amerijet.

Amerijet is an airline established in Miami almost 50 years ago by a man David Bassett with prior business experience in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin.

His background logically led to the creation of air service to those countries from Miami, “the business capital of Latin America”.

Time-sensitive pharmaceuticals and emerging fresh produce exports were key air cargo targets for remote and distant customers. Today Amerijet serves 40 cities in that vast region.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been a pharmaceutical manufacturing center since the late 1980s and in more recent years producers in Mexico City have also become global leaders in the pharmaceutical supply business, according to Tim Strauss, Amerijet’s CEO. Strauss said Amerijet for some time had worked for requisite licenses to serve San Juan. By coincidence – timed with the outbreak of Coronavirus – that San Juan license came through for Amerijet 18 months ago.

Today San Juan and Mexico City – as well as Panama City - are key epicenters for Amerijet’s business, in terms of supplying finished pharmaceuticals for those national markets, as well as picking up outbound finished products or related ingredients for foreign consumers and manufacturers.

The U.S. market isn’t the backbone of Amerijet’s business, but from Latin American producers, drug components are regularly flown to pharmaceutical companies around Philadelphia area, and elsewhere in the United States.

Strauss indicated that Brussels, Belgium, is the largest export point for finished pharmaceuticals. Amerijet maximizes time efficiencies with a couple direct flights per week from Brussels to Latin America and the Caribbean islands.

All the while, Miami International Airport is the company’s base. There, Amerijet’s facility “is the best I have seen anywhere,” Strauss said.

Here, Amerijet’s flagship 360,000 square-foot facility features a 40,000 square-foot temperature-controlled handling center designed to maintain the cold-chain integrity for refrigerated, frozen, and chilled products. The facility boasts exclusive airside ramp access to the Amerijet fleet for immediate loading and unloading of temperature-controlled shipments. Moreover, an environmentally-protected exclusive pre-cooling receiving area allows for the successful tender, transfer, and transport of vaccines.

Amerijet’s cold-chain pharma standards and processes have been certified by IATA since 2017. The airline completed its preparations to support the COVID-19 vaccine shipments by being the first U.S cargo carrier re-certified under the IATA CEIV program in August 2020.

Because Amerijet has been immersed in the pharmaceutical business for decades, the COVID-19 epidemic was not an overwhelming shock to the firm’s operations. Strauss notes that the vaccine vials are small, so packing air containers with large volumes for Latin American markets is a manageable task.

Strauss notes that his company is sensitive to the need for benevolent service to society, which is especially important as it serves underdeveloped regions of the world with life-saving products.

For one example, this year, Amerijet delivered COVID-19 vaccines to the Caribbean and Central America on behalf of Odyssey Logistics Pvt. Ltd. These shipments were a part of India’s government-gifted Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

The vaccines bound for Jamaica, Guyana, and Nicaragua, were transferred via Amerijet’s Miami International Airport hub.

“Delivering 350,000 doses of life-saving vaccines to destinations in our service region is something our entire company is proud of, and all of us at Amerijet are honored to be part of the global initiative to get the virus under control.” Strauss said in a press release this fall. “Our pharma handling team’s quality standards, uniform processes, and transparency provide our forwarder and healthcare partners with reliable logistics services every day and is uniquely valuable as we push back against the pandemic.”

The air carrier operates its dedicated freighter fleet of B767 aircraft throughout the United States, Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, and Western Europe. The company provides its service region with more than 8,250 dedicated freighter flights annually. In addition to scheduled service flights, Amerijet offers worldwide long-and short-term ACMI, CMI and full-service charters.

Amerijet’s global network, including interline partners and general sales agents, reaches 350+ destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East with seamless and transparent transportation solutions for customers shipping time-sensitive, valuable, hazardous, temperature-controlled and other cargo types.

Tad Thompson
Tad Thompson

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