German air-cargo ground handler garners CEIV – Pharma certification


LUG Aircargo Handling is one of a growing number of logistics providers seeking the certification

Kudos to LUG Aircargo Handling GmbH, which operates at three airports in Germany, for just now earning the CEIV Pharma certification for its cold chain and healthcare-products handling at CargoCity South, a facility that is part of Frankfurt International Airport. While the news is of value to pharma companies moving products through the Frankfurt airport, the bigger story is the impact the CEIV Pharma program is having on pharma logistics generally.

The Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) – Pharma program was initiated by the International Air Transport Assn. (IATA) in 2014, and since then has grown to nearly 300 organizations worldwide who have, or have applied for, certification. And while a key motivation of IATA was to protect and expand the healthcare products traffic of its air-carrier members, IATA set up the program to go beyond that, including freight forwarders, warehousing and ground transportation (as long as it might include an airport). Airports themselves can obtain CEIV certification, and a dozen or so airports around the globe have already done so.

“Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” says Andrea Gruber, head of special cargo at IATA, it makes sense for the program to include these other organizations. The overall effort is to “harmonize practices and requirements to a uniform level globally, thus providing assurance to the pharma industry.”

The CEIV program involves validator experts (there are 10 currently) who inspect and audit organizational practices of the candidate organization. The process generally involves two steps: an initial review and then a final audit, with staff training often necessary. The guidelines (there are 300 elements to the review) are based on the EU Good Distribution Practices (GDP) guidance and that of the World Health Organization; ensuring adequate temperature control of refrigerated products throughout the supply chain is a key function. However, national standards also come into play, so the effort to establish an identical standard worldwide can only go so far.

Gruber notes that, in addition to getting letters of commendation from various pharma-industry supply chain managers, some pharma companies themselves are considering meeting the same standards for their internal practices. The topic of extending the CEIV certification to pharma companies themselves is being discussed. CEIV – Pharma will be a topic of discussion at the upcoming FlyPharma meeting (Miami, Sept. 11-12); Miami Intenrational Airport was one of the earliest candidates garnering the certification. More information at

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