IAG Cargo, the cargo division of London headquartered International Airlines Group (IAG) last month sent its senior executives to further explore opportunities in air cargo transport between India and Europe, with air transport of pharmaceutical products being a key focus area.
This comes as India and the United Kingdom are negotiating a comprehensive trade deal, with pharma among the several sectors for the trade negotiation. These negotiations are expected to bolster the economic relations between the fifth and sixth largest economies of the world.
“In terms of pharmaceuticals, we will also, in conjunction with our freight forwarding customers, go and speak with the likes of Dr Reddy’s and Lupin and the big generic manufacturers. India has become a powerhouse in terms of manufacturing, originally garment production and perishables, and diversification into pharmaceuticals, and we have seen the benefit of adding capacity to service those industries.”John Cheetham, Chief Commercial Officer, IAG Cargo
Earlier this month, figures from IAG Cargo showed a 21% growth in pharmaceutical consignment from India between January-August in 2022 to the same period in 2021.
IAG Cargo launched its services to Bengaluru in 2005 and to Hyderabad in 2008. The two cities house most of the major pharmaceutical companies in India.
Currently, it works with over 25 pharmaceuticals business entities in India.
The UK was the second biggest export market for the Indian pharmaceutical industry at $704.51 million in 2021-22, according to data from the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil),
A powerhouse for pharmaceutical productions, the UK saw potential collaboration with India during the pandemic. Serum Institute of India is one of the major manufacturers of Covid vaccine Covishield, which was developed by Oxford University and Cambridge-based AstraZeneca plc.
While Vaccinations and COVID related medications might seem the only pharma products to be exported, it was a small portion. Exports of India’s pharmaceutical products, especially generic drugs are also essential for the UK’s National Health Service.
“A third of our members are headquartered in India, while others have manufacturing bases or contract supplies from the country. Around one-third of medicines used by the NHS (National Health Service) come from India,” wrote Mark Samuels, Chief Executive, British Generic Manufacturers Association in an article for the Confederation of British Industry in April.
Notwithstanding the progress and outcome of the trade deal, IAG Cargo is looking to enhance its India services from pre-pandemic level as demand for Indian pharmaceutical and other products grows in UK and Europe.
IAG Cargo’s winter schedule include more weekly flight being operated between London and India. It will be up 8 percent with 112 weekly flights as compared to 104 weekly flights undertaken in 2019.