Tracing The History Of The Air Freight Forwarding Industry
Man has always had a fascination for flying, ever finding ways to take to the skies and fly to distant places. This fascination, a dream that wouldn’t die generation after generation, was what eventually led to the birth of airplanes.
Today, airplanes are mainly responsible for taking us to any point in the world. Airplanes have become major transportation carriers. Not only do airplanes enable us to visit a friend or a loved in another continent, airplanes also carry shipments — from small items to large ones.
The idea of using an airplane to transport shipments took seed in 1910. According to aviation history, a shipment of silk was flown from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. This shipment is believed to be the first air freight demonstration.
Nine years later, another airplane became freight carrier. The cargo: a converted bomber that weighed over a thousand pounds. Shipped by the American Railway Express, the converted bomber was flown to Chicago from Washington D.C. The journey was not uneventful, though. A frozen radiator forced the pilot to land the plane in Ohio.
The 1920s saw several airlines operate as freight carriers, catering only to American businesses. The arrival of air freight has helped businesses transport merchandise more rapidly as well as shorten the time they need to conclude transactions.
Between 1927 and 1931, the number and size of air freight cargo reached nearly a million pounds, up from 45,000 pounds. Commercial air freight began operating only after World War II ended although there were efforts to organize the air freight business prior to that.
American, United, TWA and Eastern — the top four known airlines — formed Air Cargo, Inc., which operated as an air freight company until the end of the war. However, United and TWA decided to operate their own air freight business in 1944.
The air freight industry was lucrative, which was why many small plane owners tried to get into the business but failed. The bigger airlines, concerned that the smaller airlines will adversely affect the industry’s status quo, did not let smaller airlines into the air freight business. In addition, the big airlines did not want more competition. While many small plane operators tried and failed, the “Flying Tigers” survived. Known as the largest in air freight liner industry during its time, The Flying Tigers carried military and civilian cargo.
The air freight forwarding business may have had a good start, but it didn’t really start developing until a man named Fred Smith started an air freight business that has become recognizable across the world — Federal Express, or simply FedEx.
FedEx is one of the air freight carriers enjoying a great degree of success. FedEx uses modern technology (e.g., air freight software) in responding to the needs of its customers. The air freight software that FedEx uses, the latest in the freight forwarding industry, can resolve problems in the system as well as give customers services that are cost effective.
FedEx and UPS, another air freight carrier, are considered the two most reliable air freight forwarding companies in the United States today.