Panalpina, the Swiss logistics and freight forwarding company, is celebrating 25 years of its Heliship service which has, over the last quarter of a century, shipped thousands of helicopters around the world. At the same time, the company has announced a new head of the service as the current incumbent prepares to retire.
In October 1993 Panalpina transported three Bell 205 helicopters from Abbotsford, Canada to Rancagua, Chile and a new specialized Panalpina service emerged. 25 years and thousands of helicopter shipments later, Panalpina can proudly claim an established, global Heliship service. So, how did Panalpina get there?
“When I joined Panalpina in the fall of 1993, the number of helicopter shipments was low, but they gained considerable attention due to their complexity, profitability and a growing market need,” says Juerg Boschung, head of Heliship at Panalpina. “As the volumes slowly ramped-up, I was able to hire a team with experience in project forwarding, and train them on the nuances of shipping helicopters.”
Over the years, this team consistently approached each helicopter and shipment as a unique customer-specific solution. No two shipments were ever the same. It’s that level of attention each shipment receives and Panalpina’s ability to easily adjust to market changes that compels most customers to not only stay with Panalpina, but begin shipping with the Swiss company exclusively. In fact, the company has a number of customers that have been working with Panalpina for more than 20 years.
And those customers aren’t just shipping helicopters to private buyers. Many of these aircraft are headed to do some remarkable jobs, including:
- Delivering supplies provided by the western military alliance to military bases across Afghanistan;
- Supporting fire-fighting operations in Australia, Southern Europe and South America;
- UN aid missions in Africa; and
- Transporting people and supplies to and from offshore oil sites.
The Heliship team is based in Vancouver, Canada and is supported by specialists at strategic Panalpina locations worldwide. “Over the last few years, we have developed additional Heliship competence centers in the UK and Australia that have helped grow our business considerably and become a market leader in helicopter shipping,” says Boschung.
With 25 years under its belt, the future of the Heliship service is focused on continued growth and maintaining its exceptional service level. Doing so requires continued forward-thinking leadership to cultivate customer trust and adjust to market changes and demands. “It has been my great honor to lead this team to create a market-leading service that was non-existent 25 years ago,” says Boschung. “But as I prepare to retire, I’m thrilled to announce that Ryan Hecht will be my successor and assume leadership of Heliship in September.”
Hecht began his career in freight forwarding in 1994 immediately after finishing college. He joined Panalpina in 2008 and became part of the Heliship team in 2009, finally getting the opportunity to combine his experience in freight forwarding with his lifelong passion for aviation. Over the last nine years, Hecht has built excellent relationships with the Heliship customer-base, gaining their respect and trust. “When you combine that with his tenacity, business acumen and an exceptional experience, I am convinced Ryan Hecht is the perfect person to lead this team into 2020 and beyond,” says Boschung.
About his new role and the future of Heliship, Hecht says: “I am excited about what’s to come for Heliship. We are expanding the team with a sales function to boost sales in the US and support the Panalpina network with operational expertise. With a market of 60,000 registered helicopters globally, Heliship’s launch into the next decade has a highly promising outlook.”