The heart of world trade is the import and export of goods, a task that is more complicated and involved than most realize. International freight forwarders are the heartbeat of this process and help keep cargo moving in and out of hubs, airports, docks, and loading bays worldwide. Forwarders manage cargo transport via air, sea, and land, so an international freight forwarder is essentially like a travel agent for cargo. They coordinate transportation details between international sellers and buyers so that goods get where they need to go. While several modes are available, the current trend has seen a shift occur, where international freight forwarding relies on air cargo transport more than sea transport for the first time in many years.
Why Are International Freight Forwarding Providers Moving to Air Freight?
For many years, freight forwarders relied strongly on ocean freight to move cargo long distances from one country to another. Though it is a much slower mode, it has been much more affordable and manageable for forwarders until now.
As markets change, consumer demands shift, and e-commerce demands increase. Such changes are leading to retooling the usual tactical supply chain process. Here are some of the key reasons why international freight forwarders are looking keenly at air freight transport:
- Speed of Shipping. Compared to ocean shipping, air freight is a clear hands-down winner when it comes to speed. While ships are getting faster and ocean shipping routes are continually optimized and tweaked, they still are no comparison to air freight speed- with the difference being between days and possibly months.
- Costs for Final Delivery. Air cargo might be more expensive at first glance, but the costs can quickly add up when freight forwarders consider the time sea freight takes and all the labor involved. Also, losing a high-paying client because cargo could not be delivered quickly can be devastatingly expensive. Logistics Middle East noted that the market saw a point where air shipping became less expensive than sea transport in 2021 and 2022.
- Pollution Impacts. Planes produce pollution, there is no doubt about that, but some in the industry argue that the carbon and other emissions from a cross-country flight still pale compared to ocean freight transport. Ships are slow, make a lot of carbon, and can leak oil, fuel, and sludge into the waters as they slowly travel along.
- Shorter/Less Frequent Delays. Delays and disruptions are inevitable, but international freight forwarders naturally look for the shipping mode less likely to suffer from this issue. Air freight delays are less common and much shorter-lived than port delays due to bottlenecks and capacity shortages.
- Increased Load Capacity. While a cargo vessel can hold much more cargo than a single plane, planes often allow for increased capacity overall when looking at the amount of cargo that can be carried in the same time period. In many instances, the same type of cargo can be carried in multiple trips by air than by sea.
What the Shift Might Mean for International Freight Forwarding.
As technology continues to improve, additional benefits such as automation will likely become available. This would further reduce business operating costs while ensuring high-quality delivery service without compromising safety or customer satisfaction. With its fast delivery times and advanced tracking capabilities, air cargo can be a reliable and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.
Knowing when to shift from sea to air freight and vice versa, depending on location and needs, can help organizations meet their sustainability goals while ensuring that their goods are delivered safely and promptly. Choosing a professional international freight forwarder company that offers modern fleet solutions alongside advanced tracking capabilities will provide the peace of mind shippers need when importing and exporting cargo.
Improve International Forwarding Capabilities With GEODIS.
International freight forwarders are the key to keeping the world’s cargo moving in and out of locations worldwide. Air freight is ideal for international freight forwarders looking to reduce costs, save time, and avoid the hassle of weeks-long lead times associated with sea transport. To take advantage of these benefits and make the right air versus sea decisions, contact GEODIS.