Etienne Vesseur shares his experience towards becoming CEIV certified:

Introducing Etienne Vesseur

‘I have been in the logistics industry since 1988, when I joined KLM Cargo right after my studies. There, I held various management positions in both projects and operations, so I really appreciate the importance of standardising procedures within the supply chain! In 2004, I joined Yusen Logistics where I oversee our air cargo offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.’


Pharmaceutical and life sciences is one of the target industries for Yusen Logistics.; our Schiphol office has been GDP certified since 2015. In 2016, Yusen Logistics Schiphol became the first freight forwarder at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to become IATA CEIV Pharma accredited, and we are proud to be a member of Pharma Gateway Amsterdam.

We see the IATA CEIV Pharma initiative as integral to lifting and maintaining standards towards excellence across the global pharma logistics industry, and although budget and existing operations can be a challenge depending on the size and location of your business, we found the streamlined operations at the end to be just as rewarding.

From a personal point of view, I obtained a lot of valuable knowledge with regard to air freight and warehousing from working on GDP accreditation, however the IATA CEIV Pharma regulations challenged my team and myself to build upon this knowledge, and bring that to the next level.

Yusen Logistics has been active in managing a European Pharmaceutical Superhighway concept for many years, with our Antwerp branch functioning as a central hub. As a result, Yusen Logistics Benelux has a wealth of experience in medicine logistics that we were keen to formalise in the eyes of our clients in the pharmaceutical industry.

So, how to manage the project?

The starting point for achieving IATA CEIV Pharma accreditation was to approach this as pragmatically as possible and to use earlier project knowledge gained during GDP certification. All operational managers were involved in the CEIV project team, and due to this mix of experience, everyone brought their specific knowledge. In order to manage progress and quality, we continuously applied internal audits and sought cooperation with our pharmaceutical clientele. This is of course who it’s all about, and it is therefore very important to create the optimal logistics product together, to get the right lane validations, and to provide tailor-made solutions to all parties.

What would you advise for upcoming partners involved in Pharmaceutical shipments?

Take advantage of the excellent facilities that Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has to offer, and take advantage of the active support and coordination of the Pharma Gateway Amsterdam community!

What do you see in the future of air freight pharma logistics?

I expect a further increase in legal rules and regulation, recommending pharma shippers to use only certified partners in the pharmaceutical supply chains in the future. In this context, Pharma Gateway Amsterdam is a great example of where the Community actively cooperates, seeking to improve the quality and transparency of the chain together.

Looking at current developments, I expect further growth of air cargo transportation of pharmaceutical products.

But customers demand tailor-made solutions and an integral supply chain, which never limits itself to one modality. In order to optimally facilitate the growing warehousing and road transportation needs for our pharmaceutical customers, Yusen Logistics will shortly open a completely newly built GDP warehouse in Roosendaal, the Netherlands, and expand its Antwerp GDP area by approximately 7000m².

What lessons did you take away from this process?

By choosing for a dedicated Pharma & Healthcare strategy within Yusen Logistics and keeping it consistent, we see growth on both air freight and contract logistics. ‘How can things go well today, get better tomorrow’, we have often asked this question during the CEIV project. In this we apply the Japanese Kaizen methodology. From experience, we know this works well.

Final words…

Our Amsterdam Schiphol branch has a Gateway function within the Yusen Logistics global airfreight network. When we achieved the GDP status for our Schiphol facility in 2015, we started calling this the ‘Pharma Gateway Amsterdam’. This name is now known throughout Yusen Logistics and amongst our customers. Coincidentally, this name is now evolved in the Airport Schiphol Cargo IATA CEIV project ‘Pharma Gateway Amsterdam’.