Air freight shipping has become an industry plagued by pressure and risk. With higher fuel costs, limited capacity, consistent delays, and recurrent pick-up issues, air freight forwarders have their work cut out for them. For example, when reporting on the 2021 peak season’s 168% rate increase compared to two years prior, Logistics Management added that “rates eased with quieter market conditions in January and slowly wound down in February to +137% versus 2019.” This extreme price difference has been a significant aspect of air freight pickup challenges.
What Is an Air Freight Forwarder and Why They Are Vital to Supply and Demand Balance
An air freight forwarder utilizes industry connections to transport freight via air from one destination to the next. Typical contract requirements include negotiating freight rates, choosing the best carrier(s), completing accurate customs documentation, and facilitating a freight visibility platform for customers. In addition, given that most air freight is moved internationally, the air freight forwarder must perform their job across cultural and linguistic barriers.
With traditional land and ocean shipping methods undergoing instability, more shippers have turned to air to expedite their cargo needs. Although air freight shipping turns a trip that could be weeks via ocean into mere hours, the continued capacity crunch for cargo space makes freight management difficult without the expertise of an air freight forwarder.
Defining the Role of Freight Forwarders in Shipping Relationships
Freight forwarders leverage relationships and industry knowledge to successfully and efficiently transport freight across all modes of transportation. Even in a capacity crunch, forwarder-driven innovation and collaboration can help shippers and carriers stay strategic for mutually beneficial partnerships. Here are six roles that an air freight forwarder plays in making this happen.
- Freight Tracker – By investing in the best software, forwarders lead the shipment tracking that builds relationships via TMS with customers and carriers. This shared visibility allows each supply chain link to work toward sustainability while also being ready for the freight at each step of the journey.
- Customs Brokerage Licensed – A licensed broker is required for every international freight team because of the extensive documentation required to import and export freight successfully. Qualified air cargo trucking and recovery experts partner well with this role by being the boots on the ground to import.
- Warehouse Locator – Some air freight forwarding companies may have their warehouse assets as short-term drayage locations. Others utilize their networks to arrange freight storage when necessary.
- Contract Negotiator – Arranging contracts for air freight shipping can be a long and tedious process, with many potential pitfalls of low-quality partners. An air freight forwarder takes responsibility for all rate negotiating to address shipper and carrier interests while leveraging their networking, credit status, and expertise.
- Capacity Scheduler – This role drives the meaning behind “air freight forwarder,” which involves the logistic planning of attaining cargo space, consolidating freight, and arranging intermodal shipping options. Making visibility in cargo pickup a necessity prevents misplaced LCL complications when freight is combined.
- Insurance Provider – Since anything can happen during transit, freight insurance is vital. When a forwarder takes on responsibility for purchasing this insurance, the coverage will reimburse the payee in case of lost, damaged, or stolen transported goods.
Build a Strong Relationship With Air Freight Forwarders by Partnering with Carrier 911 for Forwarding Insights and Services
The pile of work on an air freight shipping team feels higher than the cruising altitude of a cargo plane. The right combination of experience, connections, and partners ensures the job is done right every time, creating more experience for a faster air freight experience. Carrier 911 sets the standard for expedited air freight care, providing services where they are needed. To solve your present and future air freight crises, contact Carrier 911 for a demo today.