Agile forwarding: How top forwarders innovate in the Middle East

Even in 2017, when air cargo operators saw double-digit gains in year-over-year traffic, growth in the Middle East was comparatively slow. The region’s geographic location had long made it a hub for trade between the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, and likewise positioned major gulf carriers like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines high in the list of annual rankings of air cargo carriers. However, as air cargo has changed with the rise of e-commerce and China’s place in global airfreight has expanded, the Middle East and its logistics needs have likewise changed.

Air Cargo World spoke with two of the world’s top 25 forwarders – one, Agility Logistics, based in Kuwait, and the second, Houston-based Crane Worldwide Logistics – with growing footprints in the Middle East. The companies are approaching the shifting demands of the region with its geographic position of the world’s crossroads in mind. Success will depend on tying the Middle East into global networks by focusing on digitalization and bringing new shippers into play by focusing on offerings for small and mid-sized enterprises.

Connecting the regions

Kuwait-based Agility has a major advantage in building up its Middle Eastern logistics offerings, in that it is already the largest logistics company based in the region and subsequently “has connections and knowledge to easily draw upon,” Henadi Al-Saleh, Agility chairperson and the head of Agility Ventures, told Air Cargo World.

“Usually where the competitors fail is that they’re not able to link all the geographies in one single strategy coordinating with the Middle East.” – Marco Nazzari, Regional Vice President of EMEIA, Crane Worldwide Logistics

“There are significant barriers to entry in this space in terms of investment, which means it would be difficult for a competitor to match or even set up in the region in the first place, particularly as Agility’s footprint and relationships have already been strongly established,” she added.

However, Crane Worldwide is another forwarder hurdling those barriers, as the regional vice president for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), Marco Nazzari, told Air Cargo World.

“The Middle East has always been a tough and demanding geographical point for logistics and air and ocean transportation,” Nazzari said, adding that the region is valuable for its position as a “great gateway coming in from Asia into Europe and on the way back, and  it has huge trades with Africa and with Latin America.”

“Usually where the competitors fail is that they’re not able to link all the geographies in one single strategy coordinating with the Middle East,” he said.

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