Hi, my name is Eric Behrend, and I am the Managing Director of Courier Local & International t/a Airfreight Africa. Airfreight Africa started in 1973 in Durban, I joined the company in 1975. The company had 2 other partners, who were stationed in Durban. We opened a branch in Johannesburg in 1975 because traders out of Durban were moving clothing to Johannesburg by road-freight and we saw the opportunity presented to us.
Via road freight, you could only take a 1-ton truck with a 1-ton trailer, totaling 2 tones per load hence Airfreight Africa Johannesburg opening its doors.
I went to Durban for 1 week to learn about airfreight with a colleague of mine, subsequently, we came back to Johannesburg and together we opened Airfreight Africa at 14A Alberts Street, Johannesburg CBD, opposite the SARS.
Our starting fleet was 1 panel combi, however after 1 month had passed, we had to buy a 2-ton truck to assist us with deliveries. Shortly after that we had to buy another panel van combi with a motorbike.
My days consisted of me waking up at 04h30am, arriving at the airport at 6am to clear all the freight, be at work by 8am then the drivers would arrive, take their cargo and head out for deliveries.
In those days, we didn’t have cellphones and only communicated via 2-way radios (when they worked) so after every delivery, the drivers were instructed to call in to find out if we had any same day deliveries in their area to be collected mainly for sending to Durban.
Domestic SAA airplanes left from Johannesburg virtually every hour but there weren’t any other airlines, it was only SAA.
In 1975 I had purchased 1/3 of the shares of Airfreight Africa Johannesburg for R2000 and in 1980 I owned 1/3 of Airfreight Africa Durban branch by which time, one of the original partners had left.
During the 1980’s to 1990, I went on to purchase an additional 40% of the entire company from the sole remaining owner. In 1995 when final share holder emigrated to U.S.A, I proceeded to purchase the remaining shares of the company and the building which was built from the ground up.
In 2000, we closed Airfreight Africa Durban to reduce overhead costs and continue with Airfreight Africa Johannesburg.
As time went on more and more courier companies opened their doors and thus our competition became tougher. In 2015, the 2 parent companies co-founded a new company called Next Day Couriers which was introduced into the market to assist us with combating our competition.