maersk air pic

Forwarders may not be so keen, but shippers have welcomed the decision by Maersk and other box lines to offer integrated logistics services, including air freight.

Shippers at Tiaca’s regional symposium in Amsterdam last week claimed a one-stop shop would make it easier for them to switch services when problems arise.

“Box lines have bought forwarders, terminal operators, planes and airlines,” said Denis Choumert, chair of the European Shippers’ Council.

“For us it’s a good thing, because of the level of complexity. They can find the best route, switch capacity and switch assets internally, as there is always risk, such as geopolitical, different channels and different manufacturing.

“Hedging the risk on assets is interesting for us because it’s an end-to-end service, and you can change modes.

“Until it is an abuse of a dominant position, we will take advantage of that.”

Lars Droog, director EMEA operations at Cytek Biosciences, agreed. he said: “It forces businesses to look at different models. Maersk is more like an integrator and, with CMA, it will change the industry.

“I hope the air cargo industry rethinks. These changes will benefit us and benefit supply chains, lead times and cost.

“The challenges we have had are extreme. This will help everybody, with predictability. When we can find a model with long-term strategies for all stakeholders in the supply chain, that will be better. It doesn’t help anybody to suffer from these type of challenges.”

He explained that it would also change the way shippers worked – “As a customer of [these integrated companies], you become smaller, and you have to work within their organisational processes.”

But he said: “Airlines have withdrawn a bit, they have outsourced services. This change might stimulate them to think more. Maersk and others will offer end-to-end services, not airport-to-airport. They have options that will create flexibility, which will cope with the challenges and different requirements.”

Communication during challenging conditions is critical, said Pieter Vlam, manager freight at Bausch Health Netherlands.

“Manufacturing constraints have meant we need to ship immediately. We’ve changed from ocean to air, and to smaller shipments. All in all, it’s really challenging. We have a continuous dialogue with forwarders and long-lasting partnerships with carriers. We talk monthly.”

Shippers were also looking for new sourcing locations, said Mr Choumert.

“Transport issues are adding to sourcing issues. Covid and Ukraine have added to costs, and European shippers that have been using more air freight are trying to find new sources. These are longer-term trends.”

He added that shippers were also concerned about sustainability and better relations with airlines would help.

“We should help airlines, that’s the future. Air cargo will always be needed. Every airport needs to look at sustainability.

“We fly everything from  the US; it’s not the best way to do it and our employees and customers want more sustainable options.”

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