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Despite restrictions limiting air travel to and from the UK being lifted pharmaceutical companies, could continue to be hit by the knock-on effect of delayed flights.
The Government and airlines are likely to prioritise stranded holidaymakers first, leaving imports and exports to wait until the backlog has been cleared – which could take days.
The pharmaceutical industry is heavily reliant on importing the raw materials needed to manufacture drugs. Any gap in the supply of these important materials could lead to delays in production. In addition, many of the drugs are then exported to markets around the world.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said drug companies, which make up one of Britain’s largest and most profitable sectors, may prove to be the worst affected by the country-wide flight ban.
Christopher Snelling, the FTA’s head of global supply chain policy, said: “Consumers won’t notice too much difference on consumer goods but it may be a problem for processes in the manufacturing industry.
“Flying in components could be a problem for particular factories. And I think they may have happened already in the pharmaceuticals industry.”
About a quarter of the UK’s exports and imports are moved by air. The flying ban is also likely to affect engineering firms, the arms trade and IT hardware suppliers.
But according to Howard Archer, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, the pharmaceutical industry could be worst affected as “many of its products are moved around by air and need to be delivered quickly”.
Some products, such as vaccines, only have a short life span and could be worthless when they eventually reach customers.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Freight Transport Association