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Panalpina flies pharma from Puerto Rico to Europe

By Staff Reports on August 18, 2014

Panalpina now offers a new service from Puerto Rico directly into Luxembourg in collaboration with Cargolux.

The weekly service marks the first regular call of a full freighter aircraft at San Juan International Airport. It gives health care customers in the area guaranteed uplift for their cargo on a Boeing 747-400F.

Most of the world’s health care giants operate production plants in and around San Juan. Freighters are their preferred choice for moving pharmaceuticals because it is easier to control the temperature of the goods and bigger lots can be moved as a single shipment.

So far, companies exporting goods from Puerto Rico could only use passenger aircraft out of San Juan or freighters out of Aguadilla, 80 miles (130 kilometers) away.

“Now our health care customers can put their temperature-sensitive goods on a cargo-only aircraft right on their doorstep. Not only do we cut out an 80-mile road leg of the journey, we also ensure the best possible control on the ground and in the air from door-to-door,” said Matthias Frey, global head of Panalpina’s controlled airfreight network.

The new service is called “Caribbean Star.” Before crossing the Atlantic, the freighter flies from Quito, Ecuador, to Bogota, Colombia, and then to San Juan, where Panalpina adds the goods. From Luxembourg, Panalpina’s Road Feeder Service brings the goods to their final destination in Europe.

Panalpina has a 37,500-square-foot (3,500-square-meter) facility in San Juan near the airport. The facility has dedicated temperature-controlled storage areas. 

“The temperature-sensitive cargo out of San Juan is currently moved in special containers that provide active cooling. But our controlled environment from door-to-door also enables us to transport goods using passive cooling, which could reduce cost and present another option for our customers. So we’re running tests and are in the process of auditing our passive cooling solution out of San Juan as well,” said Ricardo Ortiz, who runs Panalpina’s operations in Puerto Rico.

Panalpina plans to further expand its airfreight network by setting up similar first-time freighter services around the world in cooperation with air carriers.

“Establishing these unique freighter routes puts us in an unrivaled position to best serve our customers’ needs,” Frey said.