DHL Global Forwarding held onto its number one spot as the world's largest air freight forwarder in 2017, however, second placed Kuehne + Nagel continued to close the gap.
According to the latest annual figures from analyst Armstrong & Associates, the world's top 25 air freight forwarders experienced rapid growth last year, with their total tonnage rising 11.1 per cent to 16.1 million tons, reported London's Air Cargo News.
This surpassed market growth of nine per cent due to acquisitions and investments made by the top players.
DHL Global Forwarding saw its air cargo demand in 2017 increase by 8.1 per cent to 2.3 million tons.
However, European forwarder Kuehne + Nagel grew at twice the market rate with a 20.4 per cent spike in air freight volumes to 1.6 million tons. Performance was boosted by the acquisition of Commodity Forwarders in the US and Trillvane in Kenya, both perishables specialists, while it said industry-specific air freight solutions, for example for the pharma and healthcare or the aerospace sectors, generated significant growth.
Holding on to third place was Germany-based forwarder, DB Schenker, which achieved a 10.3 per cent increase in air freight demand to 1.3 million tons on the back of growth in automobile and consumer goods in Asia and Europe, while its strongest growth was on the trade route between Asia and the US.
Fourth and fifth placed Panalpina and Expeditors, both of which moved up one place in the rankings from last year, saw demand rise by 8.1 per cent and 10 per cent compared with 2016.
The fastest growing freight forwarder was Crane Worldwide Logistics, which registered a 44 per cent increase in demand to 281,083 tons. The forwarder has been targeting the European air freight market of late, opening new offices/facilities at London Heathrow and Amsterdam airport. The increase saw the forwarder soar four places up the table to 21st position.
One other trend in this year's figures is that no forwarder registered a decrease in volumes, although demand was flat at UPS and Pilot Freight Services.
Excluding these two companies, FedEx Trade Networks and Supply Chain registered the smallest increase of just three per cent to 276,400 tons, pushing the company down three places in the list to 23rd place.