The all-cargo, B747F aircraft, stopped at the airport on its way to Hong Kong from Luxembourg, as part of the company’s new bi-weekly flight rotation connecting Luxembourg, Dubai, South Africa, Hong Kong, North America and Latin America. “I think for five months, we were the only ones operating a scheduled cargo service from the airport!” laughs Schmidt. “It was an important part of linking our Dubai facility to our customers in Europe, a concept which we had put together as part of our strategy.”
With the facility’s strategic position, Panalpina’s global operations can only get easier and smoother – giving its customers short transit and time-definite solutions for airfreight consignments. “It will dramatically reduce lead times for our clients,” says Schmidt. “We were also the first to operate CTO to CH, where we basically take the full pallets directly from the airport and do the whole breakdown in our facility.”
Panalpina is not content to be a follower. “Being a pioneer is very much a key element of our service because it brings innovation and new products to customers and improves our value proposition to the clients,” says Schmidt.
And the company’s pioneering approach has certainly been paying dividends. In the first quarter of 2011, the Panalpina Group reported strong double digit profit growth across all segments, compared with the first quarter of 2010. Schmidt believes that the Middle East’s figures are not far behind. “We had a good growth level in the region and were close to double digits in terms of our gross profit growth,” he says. “It’s been a very positive start to the year.”
As well as its continued push in the newer industry verticals, Schmidt is excited about the continued growth potential of both oil and gas and projects, particularly in Panalpina Middle East’s newest emerging markets of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This year has seen Panalpina breakthrough into the Kingdom, setting up its own legal entity after almost fifteen years of freight forwarding and logistics in the country, working through an agent. “It has always been a key market for us, but to be able to establish our own company there gives us enormous flexibility to grow Panalpina on the ground,” says Schmidt.
With so many ‘tremendous’ growth opportunities on the regional horizon, be assured that Panalpina Middle East will be there. Having both Saudi Arabia and Iraq already on its roster, its regional reign in the supply chain business looks set to continue. “We want to be the supplier of choice for the companies in our focus industries, but also an employer of choice,” says Schmidt.
“To achieve this, we will continue to bring quality and innovation to our client base and to bring the value proposition across. At the same time, we have to focus on creating a career path for our staff and attract and retain the talent that differentiates us in the market.”