OREANDA-NEWS. The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents some 260 airlines or 83% of the world's total air traffic, announced on November 4 that it has designated Miami International Airport as the first pharmaceuticals (pharma) freight hub in the U.S. and only the second in the world. MIA was recognized for organizing its pharma logistics providers to undergo IATA's Pharma Certification Program, which certifies that pharma products are transported in accordance with global best practices. The announcement was made at the 2015 Air and Sea Cargo Americas Conference, the largest gathering of air and sea cargo executives in the Western Hemisphere.

"This prestigious designation will go a long way toward establishing MIA and Miami-Dade County as one of the world's leading pharma trade markets," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. "Congratulations to Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. Gonzalez and his team for taking our community's top economic engine to even greater heights."

"Congratulations to MIA on being the first airport in the United States to be designated as a pharmaceutical air cargo hub," said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "This recognition from IATA for your ability to properly handle life-saving medicines is evidence of your commitment to help make Florida a global leader in world trade."

The designation underscores MIA's leading role as a safe and efficient global logistics hub for high-value, temperature-sensitive drugs and medicines. As the busiest U.S. airport for international freight and perishable imports, MIA is already a booming pharma hub, with the total value of pharma products transported through MIA increasing by 79 percent since 2010 to USD 3.283 billion in 2014.

"As the first IATA-designated pharma freight hub in the U.S., we have the goal and expectation of increasing as well as attracting new pharma business from untapped markets across the globe," said Director Gonzalez. "We deeply appreciate our cargo partners for collaborating with us in this exciting new chapter of MIA's growth."

To achieve the designation, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department and Miami's Health Technologies Distribution Alliance (HTDA) partnered together to organize a group of MIA cargo airlines, ground handling companies and freight forwarders who will undergo specialized training through IATA's Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma Certification Program.  

"The CEIV Pharma certification program ensures the participants in the air cargo value chain have the tools to operate at the highest standards for the transport of what in many cases are life-saving drugs and medicines," said IATA Regional Vice President for the Americas Peter Cerda. "And it gives pharmaceutical companies the assurance that their cold-chain logistics requirements are met through an independent certification process. We deeply appreciate the work of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department to bring together its community of pharmaceutical logistics stakeholders to partake in this program."