West Columbia, S.C. – During this unprecedented pandemic, commercial air travel world-wide has significantly declined.
Columbia Metropolitan Airport’s (CAE hereafter) cargo shipments, however, have seen a steady uptick; thanks in part to local manufacturer, Nephron Pharmaceuticals and international cargo\carrier, UPS.
Supporting the fight against COVID-19, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, based in Lexington County, SC, added hand sanitizer, drugs for respiratory inhalation therapy and nebulizers to their existing production portfolio. Last month alone, Nephron Pharmaceuticals shipped over 25,000 pieces out of CAE to hundreds of hospitals across the nation.
“Team Nephron has been working overtime to deliver life-saving respiratory medications to patients around the country, including solutions that treat symptoms of COVID-19,” said Nephron CEO and owner Lou Kennedy. “The only way we have been able to meet the demands of increased orders is by working together with partners like UPS and CAE. We are grateful for our partners, and we are grateful for the opportunity to play an important role in the nation’s response to the pandemic. We cannot overstate how important the local UPS hub is to our business. Having them based out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport, our local airport, is instrumental to the sustainability of our healthcare operation.”
Nephron Pharmaceuticals, with a manufacturing partner, plans to launch a new product this year which will ship direct to patients around the country. This large scale project will commence in September 2020 and is slated for 200,000 monthly shipments by May 2021 – mostly utilizing UPS small package air service out of CAE.
During the month of April, UPS is increasing the number of company-owned and chartered air freighter flights by more than 185 in response to customer orders. The company is flexing capacity to meet soaring customer demand to ship test kits, personal protective equipment and other supplies necessary to the global Coronavirus response effort.
“We understand the important role of logistics during a global crisis like the Coronavirus,” said Dan Gagnon, vice president of UPS Healthcare Marketing. “In times like these, we are all the more proud to support healthcare organizations like Nephron and deploy our capabilities to help get much-needed medicines, equipment and supplies into hospitals and clinics where they can save lives.”
Over the years, CAE has consistently been a top producing cargo hub in the nation, as well as within the state – leading all other airports. Serving as the home for UPS operations, cargo drastically rose in 2019 to moving some 76,194 tons – an 11% increase over 2018 and up 22% from 2014. By comparison, Charleston International Airport handled roughly 47, 976 tons of cargo in 2019.
A vital part of the overall operations taking place at CAE, cargo provides and keeps hundreds of jobs within the community.
“The robust cargo operation in place at Columbia Metropolitan Airport is one that many aren’t aware of or fully know the economic impact it has on the region and state,” said Mike Gula, Executive Director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. “CAE serves all of South Carolina and even portions of surrounding states. For outbound freight, feeder flights and truck shipments arrive at CAE daily from our surrounding airports, businesses, and cities before being sorted and distributed through our integrated carriers – UPS and others. This process is reversed for inbound freight. Key businesses benefit from the proximity to CAE, including Nephron and others, but even small businesses in the Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Customer (B2C) e-commerce space require these logistics networks to succeed in today’s economy.”