Christmas came early this year for Panalpina’s air freight department in the form of another transport record as it flew through the one million tonne barrier for the year.
On Tuesday (18 December), the freight forwarder completed its third charter to New York City in less than a month for one of its customers in the fashion industry.
The Spirit of Panalpina Boeing 747-8F, took part in the operation, planting its wheels at JFK Airport heavy with fashion garments from Italy and Switzerland.
“With 12 days left of the year, we will reach the highest volume in our company’s history for the second year in a row,” said Panalpina’s global head of air dreight, Lucas Kuehner.
Panalpina’s air dreight record ends a year that has not been quite as strong as 2017 in terms of overall market growth.
“This was to be expected. 2017 was really an exceptional year with a market growth of 10%. We estimate air freight market growth for 2018 to come in at 3-4%, which, in absolute numbers, still signifies good growth,” added Kuehner.
Throughout the year, carriers have managed capacity well Panalpina said, which led to a lower share of allocations and block-space agreements as well as higher rates to the tune of 15-20 per cent on selected trade lanes.
For Panalpina, China to Europe, Europe to China, Europe to the US and China to the US were the strongest air freight trade lanes in 2018. US air freight exports developed strongly towards the end of the year.
“The disciplined capacity management gave the carriers room to play in the spot market in anticipation of higher rates and potentially more attractive ad hoc charters during peak season. As a result, capacity has been scarce on selected trade lanes. The few freighters that were delivered in 2018 mostly went to the integrators, adding to the capacity crunch,” said Kuehner.
The Spirit of Panalpina was in high demand throughout the year, showing load factors well above industry average. Panalpina leases the nose-loading Boeing 747-8F plane on an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) basis from Atlas Air and it is the backbone of the Panalpina Charter Network.
As part of the Panalpina Charter Network, Panalpina also charters either whole aircraft or arranges part-charters. This happens on both a scheduled and ad hoc basis. In 2018, Panalpina has organized hundreds of charters and, additionally, deployed hundreds of on-board couriers to overcome all sorts of emergency issues.
In the US, the Spirit of Panalpina usually calls at Huntsville, Alabama, but Panalpina’s charter experts can redirect it to any suitable airport worldwide to meet customers’ requirements, New York being one example.