Using 747-8 freighters operated by Silk Way West Airlines, Panalpina is including Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to its list of scheduled charter destinations. Panalpina will offer a mid-week and a weekend rotation from Luxembourg to Shanghai via Baku, and back.
Sou Ping Chee, Panalpina’s head of airfreight for Asia Pacific, said eastbound flights will carry mostly temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. The majority of the eastbound cargo will go on to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which has new cool-chain facilities. From Asia going west, via Baku to Europe, the cargo will be mostly fashion and high-tech goods.
The nose-loading capability of the 747-8 freighter is also ideal for outsized equipment for oil-and-gas exploration. “We deliver equipment from Luxembourg to Azerbaijan for the country’s main oil and gas fields east of Baku in the Caspian Sea,” said Slavey Djahov, Panalpina’s head of air freight for the Middle East, Africa and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
While the majority of the cargo offloaded in Baku is still for Panalpina’s international oil-and-gas customers, volumes of technology goods, as well as pharmaceuticals, are growing. Djahov said Silk Way is also investing in airport facilities in Baku.
“Baku has benefited from oil-and-gas revenues and is developing quickly. While oil-and-gas production and exports remain central to Azerbaijan's economy, increasingly we are witnessing the demand-patterns of a diversifying economy. Baku is in full transformation,” said Peter Triebel, Panalpina’s regional CEO for the MEAC region.