As the country’s elected leaders consider a sweeping package of coronavirus emergency relief measures, there is one critical component of the logistics sector of the economy that is pleading for consideration –air freight forwarders. Everyone is aware of the impact of the virus on the passenger airlines and its component industries, but most people are not aware of the role that airfreight forwarders play in moving high value air cargo around the world. They play a critical role in the movement of goods from one place to another.  Air freight forwarders are critical to the global economy, especially in times of crisis.

In a letter to Congress, Brandon Fried, the Executive Director of the US-based Air Forwarders Association says that his members “are freight forwarders who play a vital role in the nation’s commerce, moving essential shipments such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, fresh food and manufactured goods by air and by truck day and night. We utilize the domestic and foreign passenger airlines and trucking systems as our primary means of transportation.”

Their role grows even more vital in times like this as they seek to secure supply chains to make up for a loss in capacity and routes. Exacerbating the situation is that around 40% of air freight in the US and as much as 65% between Europe and the US is normally flown in the belly of passenger flights. With the decrease in the passenger flights there is less capacity for cargo, but the demand is extremely high. Their job is to ensure supply, by finding and securing dedicated freight services so that the essential air freight products can continue to move.

Freight forwarders are essentially middlemen in the supply chain who receive payment from shippers for performing a service and then in turn remit payment to the service providers such as airlines and other companies in the supply chain for physically moving the goods. They are very exposed financially and many of the companies will need support from Congress to continue to perform their vital function to the air cargo industry in this time of crisis.

A growing number of airlines have announced that they will be using their grounded passenger aircraft as freighters during the coronavirus pandemic which will increase capacity in the industry. Throughout all of this and trying to find creative solutions is the freight forwarder whose critical role is keeping the essential goods moving and working with airlines to offer new supply chain solutions.  As we review the coming months when critical supplies are being moved in emergency fashion around the world, we must recognize that air freight forwarders are critical to our success.

About Global Logistics Development Partners | GLDPartners: GLDPartners is a recognized global authority around a range of supply chain, transportation. competitiveness, infrastructure finance and delivery & technology solutions.  The company is based in the US and its work is global, with projects in North America, Europe and Asia.