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Turkish Airlines Adds New Pharmaceutical Cargo Transport Options

Turkish Airlines seeks to grow its share of the pharmaceutical air cargo market.

A Turkish Cargo 777 (Photo: Turkish Cargo)

More items than we would think get transported around the world by air cargo. Fresh fruit is picked right at peak season in some countries and flown to grocery stores across the world in a matter of days. Flowers being sold by florists were picked in South America, processed in Europe, and sold on the streets of New York. Everything from food to pandas can be shipped by air cargo.

A growing sector of the air cargo business is pharmaceuticals. These high-technology products require very specific shipment specifications to ensure product integrity at delivery. Shipping pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly a high-tech logistical operation that many airlines are focusing on.

One such airline is Turkish Airlines, which, for years, has been a well-known operator in both passenger and air cargo operations. This has helped the airline control seven percent of all air cargo when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medical products with eyes on more.

The airline is announcing new shipment offerings that focus on one of the most sensitive aspects of transporting pharmaceuticals: temperature. Long deviations outside of acceptable temperature ranges can destroy pharmaceutical products, therefore it is imperative to ensure that temperatures are controlled along the entire delivery chain. Any degradation in product is an extremely expensive mistake that can cost the lives of people.

Active and Passive Temperature Control

Turkish Airlines accomplishes this through two methods. The first is a standard passive temperature control method. The pharmaceutical shipments come with insulation and are always transported in temperature-controlled dollies to aircraft with continuous monitoring from a central location.

The second offering is an active/hybrid method involving containers that can regulate internal temperatures from -94 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit depending on customer specifications.

Originating and connecting cargo get to spend time in the airline’s expansive temperature-controlled storage facilities at its home base at Istanbul Airport for pharmaceuticals that are waiting for their next flight. These facilities are also where shipments can be broken down and sorted in a temperature-controlled environment for onward flights.

This is very similar to the massive pharmaceutical air cargo operation that American Airlines runs out of Philadelphia Airport. The airline offers fully integrated end-to-end transport services for pharmaceutical companies.

The pharmaceutical industry really has taken advantage of globalization on a massive scale. Components of pharmaceuticals are manufactured across the globe and are carried from one facility to another across countries and continents until a finished product is finally made. As advanced therapeutics continue to come to market, it can be expected that the market for shipping temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals will continue to grow.

Hemal Gosai


  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

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