Monday, October 19, 2009

Air freight is a term used to define any cargo of any type which is shipped via air transport, both domestically or internationally. There is a cause for using air freight shipping when goods have to reach long distances in a short amount of time, the reasons being business needs or the transportation of urgently needed or perishable goods (like food & medicine, military equipment, machinery etc). Many passenger and dedicated cargo airlines the world over maintain fleets of cargo aircraft of many sizes for a variety of goods transportation needs, while many companies like Fed-Ex maintain entire transportation logistics structures around their air/ship cargo fleets to ensure low cost end-to-end delivery solutions. Many freight forwarders specialize in a niche market or business (industry).

Air freight services encompass all aspects of shipment by air. A freight forwarder is an intermediary who handles the goods shipment needs of clients, often using multiple transportation services (cargo airlines, trucking and rail transportation companies etc). All details related to the end-to-end shipping of goods are handled by a freight forwarder for their clients. The forwarder can manage the entire operation of moving goods from one point to another. The following are some of the major activities that freight forwarding services includes.

Economical routes: A good freight forwarding company has a network of agents, satellite offices and business contacts with other forwarders and transporters. This enables a freight forwarding agent to keep track of the real-time changes in the matter of logistics, cost and date-availability along any prospective route. The benefit of this knowledge and these contacts is that freight forwarders, using a combination of transporters, can come up with the most economically friendly route (especially for international air freight), identifying modes of transport and the best carriers for their clients (the exporters).

Cutting Costs: Freight forwarders usually ship in bulk in order to cut transportation coats by booking larger consignments.

Documentation & Customs clearance at both ends (where applicable): Freight forwarders can complete customs paperwork and even pay duties and taxes on the behalf of the exporters at both the home and destination port. Forwarders usually have a network of agents or business partners all over the world to facilitate customs clearance.

Forwarding agents also manage documents like B/L-BOL documents (Bills of lading: Documents which specify the goods and quantity received on board the transportation vessel. This is also called a 'through B/L' if the delivery is to be made by means of at least two different modes of transportation).

Fastest and most cost friendly solutions: Forwarding agents can help exporters choose the best options in terms of speed of delivery, safety & reliability and cost. Agents usually provide a set of options, balancing the exporter's requirements with the best available options, so that exporters can choose the best trade-off fitting to their needs.

Insurance: Most freight forwarders can provide shipping insurance for any destination and any type of material to be transported, given that other legal requirements are met.

Value added services: Freight forwarders can also provide additional services for the benefit of their clients, e.g. inventory, logistics and supply-chain management.

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