Navigation and Content

Global Forwarding, Freight

Air, ocean and overland freight forwarding services are our core business. They include standardised transports as well as multimodal and sector-specific solutions, together with customised industrial projects and customs services.

Our business model is based upon brokering transport services between customers and freight carriers. The global reach of our network allows us to offer efficient routing and multimodal transport options. Compared with the Group’s other divisions, our operational business model is asset light. Global Forwarding, Freight is among the top three global freight forwarding companies in a market that remains fragmented.

Air, ocean and overland freight







3.1 million

20-foot container units transported


freight terminals

Declining volumes in freight markets due to overall normalization

As expected, the overall situation on the freight markets returned to normal in 2023. In this environment, we reached around 1.7 million tons (previous year: around 1.9 million tons) of export air freight transported. In ocean freight, volumes decreased by 6.2% to around 3.1 million (previous year: around 3.3 million) 20-foot container units transported.


    Asia Pacific


    Middle East/Africa Europe Other Global

    Air freight (m tons)1







    Ocean freight (m TEU)2







    Data based solely on export freight tons. Source: Accenture, forecast as of November 2023.
    Twenty-foot container units; estimated part of overall market controlled by forwarders. Data based solely on export volumes. Source: Accenture, forecast as of November 2023.

Difficult economic conditions impacting the European road freight market

After two years of growth, the European road freight market in 2023 was negatively affected by the macroeconomic environment, economic parameters. We experienced a shipment volume decline of 9.2% in the Freight business unit. Increased labor costs, toll charges and persistently high diesel prices caused constant cost pressure.

Satisfied customers and high security standards

We aim to design our services to be as user-friendly as possible in the Global Forwarding, Freight division. To do so, we systematically record customer feedback by calculating Net Promoter Scores and conducting annual satisfaction surveys. Based upon the information received, we define initiatives and actions aimed at steadily improving our products and services.

With an ISO-certified business continuity management program, our global network meets the highest sector-specific safety standards, including TAPA and the US initiative C-TPAT.

With a global Transport Management System, we laid the foundation for further scaling of applications and processes in the Global Forwarding business unit. In the Freight business unit, we also have a standardized Transport Management System along with customer interaction tools such as the myDHLFreight portal, which is already running in eight countries, and Saloodo!, our digital marketplace for road freight.