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Our History

Japan's First Air Freight Specialist

The roots of Kintetsu World Express, Inc. begin in May 1948 when Kintetsu Railway, then known as Kinki Nippon Railway, established a travel service department. Upper management launched the department into the foreign airline agency business, looking ahead to the future of air travel. The airline business was later stewarded by Kinki Nippon Tourist (KNT, a subsidiary of KNT-CT Holdings), established in 1955.

Japan's high economic growth period had just begun, and air freight forwarding was rapidly growing with increasing international business opportunities. In January 1970, the newly formed Kintetsu Air Cargo International split off from KNT to become the first air freight specialist in Japan.

This has remained an integral part of our identity from the time the company was established until today.

BOAC Argonaut airliner at the Haneda Airport (1950)

Haneda Airport in 1950

Kintetsu's International Strategy

Our expansion began when an American magazine publisher sought our expertise to relocate its printing operations from Japan to Hong Kong. In April 1969, KNT's air freight business department became the first among Japan's forwarders to establish a subsidiary in Hong Kong.

In the following month, our second subsidiary was established in the United States. While other Japanese forwarders had set up base in New York, we chose to establish operations and prioritize our business expansion in the city of Chicago--a central hub for American manufacturing.

These efforts started to bear fruit in the mid-1970s with the emergence of the US electronics industry, particularly in the area around San Francisco that would come to be known as Silicon Valley.

KWE made strategic investments to cultivate business partnerships with US electronics companies and further strengthen its freight forwarding capabilities; these clients would later develop into global enterprises.

KWE HK Head Office in Tsim Sha Tsui

KWE HK Head Office in Tsim Sha Tsui

KWE USA Chicago Office

KWE USA Chicago Office

KWE's Growing International Support Network

Building on the momentum of these expansion efforts, from 1985 onwards KWE would establish one overseas subsidiary after another to construct an operations network for door-to-door forwarding. KWE UK was established in February 1985, followed by KWE Germany in June of the same year. Wholly-owned Taiwan operations began in April of 1987, with representative offices opening in Australia and Korea in June of the same year.

KWE UK London Office

KWE UK London Office

Focus on Business Development in China

Starting with our Beijing liaison office in 1985, KWE continually set up representative offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dalian, and Xiamen throughout the mid-to-late 1980s. In January 1995, Kintetsu Logistics (Shenzhen) was established.

A major turning point in accelerating our business in China was the 1996 creation of Beijing Kintetsu World Express--a joint venture with local enterprise. This project would grow to become an indispensable trailblazer for business expansion in China, capable of air and sea freight international forwarding, logistics, and domestic shipping.

In 2005, KWE became the first foreign freight forwarder to obtain a license for domestic air freight handling in China. To complement the country's fast economic growth, in 2007 we acquired a 46,000 m² warehouse located within the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone.

High Value-Added Service

In May 2015, KWE completed the acquisition of Singapore-based APL Logistics (APLL), a subsidiary of Neptune Orient Lines. APLL's logistics portfolio spans North America and Asia, providing high value-added services to US leaders in the automotive, retail, industrial and consumer industries. The combined strengths of KWE and APLL translates to improved services for our customers, and today we move as a unified group to expand our business toward the future.

APLL transport truck

APLL transport truck

A True Global Logistics Partner for the Future

In celebration of our 50th anniversary in May 2020 and as a testament to our historical achievements, we continue to prioritize our core handling strengths in air and sea freight forwarding, maintaining an asset-light logistics business model while meeting a broad range of customer needs. Through these efforts, we aim to continually grow in the rapidly changing global logistics market.

We are now creating the next 50 years of our corporate history as we move forward to achieve our long-term vision ―

Global Top 10 Solution Partner: A Global Brand Born in Japan

KWE 50th anniversary

Corporate History

            
1948 Kinki Nippon Railway's (now Kintetsu Railway) Operation Bureau starts international freight and passenger operations, gains an agency license from IATA.
1955 As Kinki Nippon Tourist, starts comprehensive freight and passenger operations in a collaboration between the international air division and the international tourism division.
1969 Establishes its first subsidiaries outside Japan, in Hong Kong and the United States.
1970 Kintetsu Air Cargo International becomes an independent company.
1978 First computerized export operations system in the industry in Japan goes online.
1989 Company name changes to Kintetsu World Express.
1994 First company quality management system certified ISO 9002 compliant in the logistics industry in Japan (changed to ISO 9001 in 2003).
1998 Completes construction of Narita Terminal.
2002 Listed on Tokyo Exchange Second Section.
2003 Listed on Tokyo Exchange First Section.
2004 Completes construction of Baraki Terminal 4 (Ichikawa, Chiba).
2005 Completes construction of Chubu International Airport Terminal (Tokoname, Aichi).
Completes construction of Rinku Terminal (Izumisano, Osaka).
2006 Establishes five regional headquarter global management framework.
2011 Head office moves from Chiyoda-ku to Minato-ku, Tokyo.
2012 Certified AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) by Tokyo Customs.
2015 Acquires and establishes APL Logistics Ltd as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
2020 Celebrates 50th anniversary.
2022 Became a wholly owned subsidiary of Kintetsu Group Holdings, Inc, delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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