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Airforwarders FAQ

What is an Airforwarder?

Welcome to the Airforwarders Association. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you understand the Airforwarders’ vital role in keeping commerce moving around the globe. 

What is an Airforwarder?

Unlike a broker or agent, in the United States, Airforwarders (also known as airfreight forwarders and Indirect Air Carriers) act as common carriers* who under a contract of carriage provide air freight transportation services internationally and domestically. 


But that is only the beginning of the story.

As non-asset operations, Airforwarders have the flexibility to offer many services using a broad range of transportation options and opportunities. While most of our members use cargo services offered by the scheduled passenger airlines, many use other forms of transportation as well. These offerings include arranging shipments by freighter aircraft, truck, ship, and rail.


Airforwarders are flexible and creative.

Airforwarders provide flexible, collaborative, and creative solutions designed to meet specific customer needs. Speed is not always the controlling factor as shipments often demand time-definite delivery, accommodating special size and packing requirements as well as temperature control.


What other services do Airforwarders offer? 

Shippers rely on Airforwarders to handle a multitude of ancillary services that include:
o    Assembly and distribution
o    Fulfillment or “pick and pack” services
o    Warehousing
o    Retail product distribution
o    Financial services and insurance support
o    Customs clearance
o    Trade regulation assistance
o    Specific industry focus such as pharmaceuticals, trade shows, artwork, pets, livestock, and more


How big is the Airforwarding Industry?

In the United States alone there are over 3,500 registered freight forwarders. The industry employs over 100,000 people with thousands of offices located throughout the world. While air cargo represents less than 5% of freight flown by volume, the segment represents 30% of global shipment value with almost 80% managed by airfreight forwarders. Each member of the Airforwarders Association serves as a valuable team affiliate to customers, improving their supply chain efficiency, negotiating competitive rates, and helping them speed products to market quickly and efficiently.

* A common carrier is a private or public entity that transports goods or people for a fee.