October 14 - Yesterday, at the UK's Stansted airport, Swiss forwarding group Panalpina celebrated the silver jubilee for the operations of its Charter Network.

The company's 'Dixie Jet' Boeing 747-8 freighter, Spirit of Panalpina, that is leased on an ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) basis from Atlas Air, arrived at Stansted from Huntsville, USA.

Three out of four of Panalpina's scheduled weekly transatlantic Charter Network flights call at Stansted, en route from Huntsville to Luxembourg, and the forwarder says it is the only company offering a scheduled freighter service between the USA and UK.

Panalpina highlighted its use of less-congested airports, such as Luxembourg, Huntsville and London Stansted, as helping its Charter Network to offer faster turnarounds on the ground, and to reduce the risk of delays.

25 years ago, when the original Luxembourg-Huntsville cargo service was launched, it was an innovative move and Panalpina became the first freight forwarding company to offer a scheduled air cargo service between Europe and North America. Today, Panalpina claims that its controlled network remains a unique offering from a freight forwarder, with the ACMI on the transatlantic remaining the backbone of the controlled airfreight network.

Panalpina says that its Charter Network is ideal for the handling of special cargo such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, microchips, helicopters, cars, radioactive and explosive cargo, high-value goods, as well as oversize oil and gas equipment, but admits that actual shipments and enquiries for the latter are considerably down as a result of the depressed nature of the global oil and gas industry.

It says that in light of that downturn, it is refocusing its efforts on other sectors, notably temperature-controlled shipments.

The Panalpina Charter Network accounts for approximately 15 percent of Panalpina's airfreight each year, and last year the company transported 857,000 tonnes of airfreight.

HLPFI readers may recall that Panalpina and Atlas Air announced a change to their long-standing partnership in the airfreight industry, in February this year with a new five-year agreement, that saw Panalpina switch one of its wet-leased aircraft to more than 200 scheduled charters per year.

As part of the five-year agreement, Panalpina also extended its operation of the wet-leased 747-8F on the transatlantic route, which includes calls in Mexico and the UK.