The agents for change
It is the freight forwarders that make the world of air cargo go round and without them there will be no lasting changes to the business. However, many cargo agents are expanding and looking for new ways to gain a competitive edge over their rivals - whether they be small, medium or large in size.
In the wake of the opening of its first office in Brazil - and its first in South America - multimodal forwarder Bellville Rodair International (BRI) is "pretty excited", according to operations director Europe Susanne Oud.
"We opened in Porto Alegre in September but we've been involved in the Brazil market for nearly eight years, under an agency agreement with a local company who handled the local portion while the business was controlled by us.
Terry Walpole, BRI chairman, agreed: "The new office shows our support for the client base we already have there. It's also an acknowledgment of Brazil's role in the world economy. It was just the next obvious step in our expansion plan and opens up so many opportunities for us throughout the Americas for the import and export of cargo, whether that is by air or by sea."
The other challenge in Brazil is the level of red tape involved in air freight. But Oud pointed out: "You just have to understand the requirements for documentation, and of course accuracy is key. There a lot of regulations, but you can work withing them if you understand them and if you have strict processes in place."
She stressed that forwarders should realise that it is possible to operate professionally, economically and smoothly in apparently difficult markets like Brazil, as long as they fully understand those markets.
Currently, air freight in Brazil is "booming", she went one. "The only slight difficulty is that the real is very high, which makes Brazilian products expensive. The government may need to stabilise the real to keep Brazil's exports competitive. In the last recession, its economy was about the only economy that was not affected. That shows its strength," Oud feels.