9 Best Practices for Efficient Air Freight Forwarding

by | Industry

Air freight is widely agreed to be a faster, more secure, and more reliable mode of shipping as compared to sea transport, but it comes with a significantly higher price tag – often several times higher. So, while it may not be the right choice for every shipment, it certainly has earned its place in global supply chains. In fact, it’s a common misconception that 90% of all global trade is shipped by ocean carriers. Better estimates place nearly a third of shipments as air cargo.

Key Takeaways

  • Air Freight is Usually Fast and Reliable but Expensive: Although air freight is quicker, more secure, and more reliable than sea transport, it’s often significantly costlier, making it unsuitable for every shipment.
  • Regulatory Compliance is Key: Staying updated with evolving international and local regulations, such as customs and security measures, is crucial for successful air freight forwarding.
  • Relationships with Carriers Matter: Building strong partnerships with various airlines is essential for securing capacity and negotiating favorable rates.
  • Technology Enhances Efficiency: Investing in advanced tracking systems and automated solutions improves operational efficiency and reduces error risks in air freight forwarding.
  • Risk Management and Customer Focus are Vital: Regular risk assessments, security protocols, and clear communication with clients are imperative for efficient and secure air freight operations.

Are you maximizing your market share when it comes to air freight? Are the complexities of air freight holding you back from making this mode as profitable as others? Air freight forwarding is, indeed, an intricate process that requires attention to detail, superior organization and record-keeping, and adherence to regulations. In this article, we share some best practices that can help air freight forwarders ensure successful operations:

Stay on Top of Regulatory Requirements

With regulatory requirements evolving all the time, it’s important to stay current with international and local regulations, including customs requirements, security measures, and dangerous goods handling. Consider obtaining industry certifications, such as IATA accreditation, to enhance credibility and ensure compliance with air transport standards. Ask your software vendors how they can support you in keeping up-to-date: Magaya makes regular updates to Magaya Customs Compliance as regulations and tariffs change. 

Build Strong Relationships with Carriers

It’s no secret that, in the logistics industry, relationships matter. Develop partnerships with reliable airlines, large and small, to secure capacity and negotiate favorable rates. Work with multiple carriers to provide options to customers and flexibility in routing.

Optimize Cargo Consolidation

Because space is at a premium in cargo aircraft, consolidation is a key cost-saving strategy for air freight. Combine shipments to optimize cargo space and reduce costs for your clients. Plan consolidation schedules that align with both clients’ supply chain needs and carrier flight times to ensure timely deliveries.

Invest Wisely in Technology

Implement advanced tracking systems that provide real-time updates on cargo status to enhance visibility for both the forwarder and the client. Use automated solutions for booking, documentation, and cargo handling to increase efficiency and reduce the risk of errors. It’s easy to access rates from all major airlines and book directly from Magaya Supply Chain or Magaya Rate Management, as well as track air shipments from Magaya Supply Chain.

Provide Accurate Documentation

Documentation accuracy is the cornerstone of efficient air freight operations. Ensure all documentation, including air waybills, commercial invoices, and packing lists, is accurate and complete to avoid customs delays. Utilize eAWB (electronic air waybills) to transmit documents electronically, speeding up the process and reducing paper waste.

Manage Risks and Focus on Security

Regularly assess risks in the supply chain and develop contingency plans for potential disruptions. Implement thorough screening procedures to maintain security and comply with regulations. Train staff on security protocols and ensure that handling and storage facilities meet security standards. Ensure you are adequately insured and offer comprehensive cargo insurance options to clients to protect against loss or damage during transit. 

Enhance Communication and Put Customers First

Maintain clear and consistent communication with clients regarding their shipment status and any potential issues or changes in scheduling. Foster effective communication within the organization to ensure that all departments are aligned and informed. Be responsive to customer inquiries and proactive in addressing any issues that arise.

Offer Value-Added Solutions

To diversify revenue streams, you may want to consider offering special handling for sensitive cargo, such as perishables, pharmaceuticals, or high-value goods. Provide tailored solutions that meet specific client needs, such as express services or chartered flights for urgent shipments, and evaluate the logistics of additional services such as packaging, storage, or inventory management.

Never Stop Learning and Improving

Invest in regular training for staff to ensure they are skilled in the latest air freight forwarding practices and technologies. Encourage knowledge sharing among team members to improve service quality and efficiency.

Establish a system for gathering feedback from customers to continually improve service offerings, and implement quality control checks at various points in the forwarding process to maintain service standards.

Don’t let your profits fly out the door (pun intended). By following these best practices, air freight forwarders can streamline operations, improve customer satisfaction, and navigate the complexities of international air cargo transportation effectively.

Ready to digitize and modernize your freight forwarding operations?

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