Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Giving a voice to freight forwarders

Giving a voice to freight forwarders

As the voice of the freight forwarding industry, at a time when it is attempting to return to normality post-Covid, the Airforwarders Association (AfA) has a key role to play for its members.

The AfA has a unique perspective on the situation across the industry, operating as an alliance of air carriers, cargo airlines and related businesses with US offices across the global freight transportation sector.

With over 3,500 registered freight forwarders in the United States alone, employing more than 100,000 people, it’s critical for someone to step up as an advocate. That is why the AfA doesn’t just seek to help its members but the entire industry and connected companies.

“Over the past decade, one of the primary financial mainstays of the aviation industry has been air cargo: this has never been clearer than in the face of the COVID pandemic,” says Fried.

“Air cargo has sustained not only the aviation sector but entire regional economies as well as the morale of the population, and it is the goal of the AfA and its members to ensure sufficient investment in air cargo infrastructure to enable the industry to continue to thrive in the future.”

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Pushing for solutions

Amid a rocky environment for the cargo transportation industry, plagued by international conflicts and growing cost pressures, it’s not enough to just identify problems, AfA has to fight to ensure solutions are implemented by the relevant authorities.

Having witnessed disruption throughout the supply chain in the past few years, AfA believes it is crucial to work within the industry and alongside top decision makers. As an association, the main challenge is simply getting Capitol Hill to understand why it’s important to take the steps AfA is calling for. “We don’t want them holding up cargo just because they didn’t think about what they were doing,” Fried explained.

AfA works directly with government officials to make them aware of the work that must be done to help the freight forwarding industry achieve its full potential. This was reflected in the association’s recent move to appoint lobbyist Michael Taylor to maintain its pressure on US Congress for urgent investment in air cargo infrastructure at US airports.

This move comes after AfA called for a state or federally backed Air Cargo Support Fund to tackle what they described as an infrastructural crisis facing the industry. The recommendations were part of a whitepaper that was produced after a survey of 400 air cargo stakeholders at multiple levels of the sector.

AfA has worked to present clear recommendations, including implementing airport community systems, encouraging better recruitment and retention through improved compensation packages, and a new industry-wide training programme.

These will come at a cost though, with AfA believing it is vital that the USD$25 billion that airports will receive by way of the Infrastructure Act is allocated across all areas of airport development.”

“AfA’s appointment of senior lobbyist Michael Taylor will greatly bolster our efforts to convince members of Congress of the urgent need to strengthen US airport cargo infrastructure to enable airfreight to thrive as the critical link it is in the global supply chain and to protect the many thousands of jobs it creates,” said Fried.

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Changing industry

With almost four decades of experience in the industry, Fried is no stranger to how changes and developments can reshape the sector for the better. One such area where the evolution of the airfreight industry has been clearer than ever before is in the introduction of new technology.

Fried sees the spread of automation and digitalisation as one of the “biggest evolutions” in the sector, with digital processes being implemented at all levels of cargo handling to improve efficiency.

The AfA executive director believes that technology is being adopted at rates he’s never seen before. “I think that is positive,” Fried stated, highlighting how the increasingly speedy adoption of technology reflects the creative, responsive, and flexible nature of freight forwarders. “We’re working,” Fried added, citing the introduction of automation in ways that can streamline operations, replacing unnecessary procedures to save time and money.

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on Edward.Hardy@AirCargoWeek.com

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