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Heavy lift bonus for Panalpina

August 28 - High and heavy activities are not a core activity for global forwarder Panalpina's airfreight arm but at present the sector is proving a lifeline in the current economic misery faced by the global freight forwarding industry.

That was the message to an international freight trade press briefing from Robert Frei, head of Panalpina Corporate Air Freight at the company's Luxembourg airport freight hub.

"Business in the off-size sector at present is stable; it's not rising but then it is not falling significantly either," he said.

Overall, Frei predicted that the company would not see anything like the traditional peak season this year as clients' "inventory overhangs" will work to dampen volume shipping activity.

Two significant project and heavy lift markets that are holding up in the current climate, Frei considered, are oil and gas as well as telecommunications.

He says: "We are continuing to shift oil and gas equipment from Texas, Aberdeen and Singapore to Nigeria ports. The telecoms sector is holding up for us. We move handsets, as well as the network infrastructure components, such as antennas and switches. This market is still active, especially in the movement of telecoms equipment from China to Africa."

One high and heavy trade that the airfreight arm will not develop is wind power generating equipment.

Frei said: "Wind power is an interesting sector but it's not for airfreight. There is something counter in many people's minds in sending green energy production material by aircraft. This trade will remain with maritime and surface movements."

An unexpected pressure on heavy lift activity has been the sudden fall in BRIC traffic, which has caught Panalpina by surprise. The Swiss-based forwarder has recently considered traffic to and from Brazil, India, China and Russia would hold up in the face of the current climate. This is significant as these markets are some of the strongest for heavy infrastructure and project activity. The forwarder now admits, however, that these markets are now in decline.

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