As one of the UK’s significant economic contributors, air freight has played a huge role in the freight forwarding industry for many years. In fact, the enormity of the air freight industry is so vast and plays such a vital role in our day to day lives, that it is astounding to think that it has only been just over a century since air travel was introduced to the world.

air freight

We owe the first successful aircraft to the Wright brothers, who made their first flight in December 1903. Just seven years later the first air cargo was transported in Ohio, carrying bolts of silk, in what was seen as the first example of air freight’s power, as it raced against an express train and won.

The first stages of air freight

Of course, in those early days of air travel, planes weren’t as robust as our modern aircrafts, and therefore were unable to carry a great deal of cargo. As a result of this, the first years of air freight were mainly reserved for the transportation of mail and small packages, with the first ‘air mail’ flight taking place in 1911 in India.

Aircraft development grew rapidly as World War II broke out, utilising airplanes to transport supplies to many different areas of conflict, as well as troops. Developments made during this period transformed aircrafts, increasing their power, size, flight capacity and distances they could fly.

Following the end of World War II, the air freight industry grew rapidly, with dedicated cargo aircrafts developed and the introduction of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which still supports the aviation industry with regards to safety, security, sustainability and efficiency to this day.

The emergence of express freight

Door to door air freight services were introduced in the 1970s, with DHL and Federal Express (FedEx), following the introduction of wide-body jets that allowed for more substantial cargo to be transported. As technological advancements continued, in the early 1990s FedEx provided the first tracking software to its customers, so that they could view a package’s progress.

Since then, the internet has allowed us to provide real-time track and trace capabilities to the majority of air freight services, providing customers with a much more transparent (and reliable) freight service.

With over 30 years in the industry, we have seen air freight and the technology supporting it, develop in leaps and bounds, allowing for swift, compliant and cost-effective transportation of cargo. Are you looking for a reliable air freight partner? Contact the team at Grace Overseas today to discuss your requirements.

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