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K&N kicks DHL off its perch

K&N kicks DHL off its perch

Kuehne & Nagel has long been the world’s biggest sea freight forwarder however in recent development that went unnoticed by many industry pundits K&N has now taken the top spot in air freight from Germany’s DHL.

The latest annual statistics from consultant Armstrong & Associates show that K+N was the world’s largest air freight forwarder in terms of volumes in 2021 as it recorded a 54.9 percent increase to 2.2 million tonnes.

The large increase came as 2021 was a bounce back year following the worst of the Covid crisis that saw demand fall and large swathes of capacity taken out of the sky as passenger fleets were grounded and cargo carriers had to find new ways to transport shipments.

Demand was also boosted as economies recovered from the Covid scare and the public had more cash to spend on goods as services were still limited by the crisis.

There was also a modal shift as the container shipping industry struggled with congestion at ports and container shortages.

K+N also benefited from the acquisition of Apex Logistics. The first-time consolidation in May 2021 of air freight provider Apex Logistics accounted for around half of the growth.

At the time of acquisition, K+N said Apex handled around 750,000 tonnes of air cargo per year.

“Limited global freight capacity in 2021 called for customised solutions from the Air Logistics business unit,” K+N said. “Demand remained strong for K+N’s services in areas such as pharmaceuticals, essential goods and e-commerce. This enabled the business unit to gain significant market share.”

In 2021, the increased demand for air transport services was generated from a solid economic rebound, but also from challenges in sea freight supply chains, the company said.

“This in combination with an extended period of low availability of belly capacity due to low frequency of passenger travel has led also in the air freight market to capacity shortage and high freight rates,” K+N said in a recent report

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