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Panalpina begins paperless flights

By control on December 3, 2013

Panalpina is the first company in the world to achieve completely paperless flights for general airfreight.

Using its 747-8 freighters, the freight forwarder now operates several paperless port-to-port services with final destination in Europe, Hong Kong and the U.S.

The inaugural flight for the world’s first paperless round-trip for general air cargo took off Nov. 19 from Huntsville, Ala.

Panalpina estimated that more than 7,800 tonnes of paperwork travels through the sky every year, adding time, cost and environmental waste to airfreight.

Panalpina now runs regular paperless air cargo services between Huntsville and Luxembourg, from Luxembourg to Hong Kong, and from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Huntsville.

"Panalpina is showing great leadership in adopting E-freight and assisting our efforts in transforming the future of the airfreight industry,” Desmond Vertannes, global head of cargo at the International Air Transport Association, said. “As a global industry initiative, E-freight can only be achieved with the full cooperation of business partners, so we encourage others to follow this example.”

The company plans to fly all general airfreight on its 747-8 freighters without paper in less than two months, with exceptions for flights to and from the Middle East, Africa, CIS, Mainland China and Brazil.

“The benefits of going digital are clear: more efficiency, less cost, reduced environmental impact and increased data quality – but it isn’t easy,” Lucas Kuehner, global head of airfreight at Panalpina, said. “Airfreight is complex, fragmented and lacks standardization – but we are overcoming these challenges together with our partners. Being active in the industry is a key to our success. Our E-freight ambassadors are out there building connections, and we train our staff to help make
E-freight a reality.”

The average airfreight shipment generates 30 documents that have to be handled by each of the partners involved in the shipment.

“E-freight doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires a lot of groundwork before it can truly take off,” Jeannette Goeldi, responsible for global standards and governance in airfreight at Panalpina, said. “But our successes so far are an encouraging sign. We’ve established a solid foundation for the future, and we will continue to expand and improve our work to remain at the forefront of E-freight.”