AMI celebrates its 40th birthday
14 / 11 / 2016
AMI is celebrating its 40th birthday this month after being launched in 1976 and growing to become the world’s largest airfreight wholesaler.
The company was originally launched as part of the Air Marketing International group in 1976 but two years later split away under founder and managing director Tony Realff.
AMI’s trade-only concept found early favour with freight forwarders, who had previously co-loaded with larger forwarders which were often also competitors.
In 1986, the company launched a general sales agency arm, to represent Continental Airlines Cargo in the UK. The success and closeness of the relationship that developed led to Continental buying AMI in 1987 – only to sell it back to Realff three years later, as part of a policy of returning to core business.
In 1986, AMI also launched AMI Express, providing airport-to-door and door-to-door services both for forwarders and couriers.
In 1993 the company was sold to fast-expanding Menzies Aviation, changing its name to Air Menzies International and it began a period of global expansion.
Since 2000, AMI has pursued a determined policy of continuous online development, to improve its efficiency and enhance customer service through round-the-clock booking and tracking facilities.
Sharon Wright, AMI’s vice president Europe, is the company’s longest-serving employee, having started working for it just months after its launch and has witnessed the company’s evolution at first hand.
She said: “When we first launched AMI, it was all about offering the lowest rates. By consolidating cargo from different agents, we qualified for the lower carrier rates at higher breakpoints, and passed the savings back to our agent customers.
“But the market changed, and we found ever greater demand for back-to-back shipments – each with its own air waybill.
"At the same time, fierce competition among carriers has driven rates down, eroding some of the significant differential we once provided – so we have had to innovate to continue adding value to the supply chain, and so maintain our role.
She concludes: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my career with AMI thus far, and I’m immensely proud that we have left a unique and lasting mark on the landscape of the airfreight industry.
"AMI has helped thousands of freight forwarders to maintain their competitive edge against the large multi-nationals, and I am confident we’ll continue to do so for the next forty years.”