The air freight industry plays a major role in international trade and commerce hence its efficiency is vital to the success of the companies or institutions that avail of its services. The process involves the participation of different organizations and not solely with the airline that provide the cargo transport carrier. Almost all organizations involved belong to the private sector and they maintain a stimulatingly stiff competition among different companies, who wish to take part in the whole process of the air freight operations.
Based on this, let’s take a closer look at the different organizations and their different roles in the whole air freight processes:
Airlines- the entity that provides the aircraft that has enough air freight capacity in its belly hold. The aircraft can be a passenger type, a combination passenger-cargo carrier type or has freight capacity only. The users of the aircraft may be the scheduled operators of the airline or freighter operators, charter operators or simply integrated as carrier. Charter operators are those who use the aircraft as part of their holiday package deals and will include rendering of air freight services. On the other, freighter operators are engaged purely in rendering air freight services. Integrated carriers have their own aircrafts thus the belly holds are for their own cargo delivery purposes usually as an express shipper of door-to-door items.
Airports – they allow the use of airport facilities and available ground spaces in exchange for rentals and landing fees including parking fees for the airline customers. They also charge rent for the space occupied by the airline’s retail outlet, maintenance workshops for the aircrafts, sheds for cargos in transit.
Air Freight Forwarders- act as the go-between for the shipper of the good and the importer or the recipient by facilitating the further routing, handling and documenting in favor of the receiver either to reach the latter’s destination or to be forwarded to another foreign destination.
Integrator- This unit is in charge of delivering the goods to the recipient, with the utilization of their own aircraft, road transport and warehouse facilities. The arrangement is usually a direct arrangement with the shipper for transporting of air freight goods or item bought by customers online or by mail/catalogue which will be delivered at the latter’s doorstep.
Express operators- This are the units that provide fast delivery of mails and small parcels while working in terms of hours as gauge for the speed of their delivery and as an edge over forwarders who usually take days to complete delivery.
Wholesalers- These are companies that buy a holding capacity in the belly hold during the flight and will retail the air freight space to small shippers at a more affordable price, instead of arranging shipments directly with the airlines.
Courier Services- the goods to be shipped will be carried as part of the passenger luggage through the use of courier bags.
Specialist air trucking companies- Often these trucks provide services for the airline in providing the forwarding transport on land to reach their destinations. They serve as the land extension of the air freight services rendered by the airlines
Transit shed operators – this is the unit in charge of receiving the goods at the airport and will hold the goods in transit sheds at the same time take are of the custom duty requirements. This facilitates the release of the goods to the trucking services.
General sales agents- These are the outlets, usually booking, ticketing or traveling agencies that will accept the arrangements for air freight space or belly hold capacity being purchased for goods to be transported. Airlines use this as their sales and marketing arm instead of maintaining their sales departments, hence minimizing overhead costs.
A clear understanding of the different units and organizations that operate to facilitate the air freight services will now give us a clearer perception on how the goods reach their destinations.