The basics about air freight

Sometimes a customer wants something RIGHT NOW.  As challenging as this can be, there is a transport option that can possibly accommodate a quicker-than-normal timeframe or a location that is outside the norm for your business. Here is some of the basic information needed to help navigate the process of shipping your goods by air freight.


The definition of air cargo is any property or goods carried in an aircraft, this includes air freight, air express and airmail.



• Fast

• Reliable timeframes

• Virtually unlimited destinations

• High levels of security mean reduced risk for theft/damages

• Easy to track the status of flights and goods



• Cost

• Size limitations

• Bad weather delays, cancelled flights etc.


Temperature controlled goods


There are two typical options for refrigerated air freight. Envirotainers are Unit Load Devices (ULD) equipped with a motor and batteries and a dry ice compartment that maintains temperatures for up to 72 hours. Accutemps are equipped with a compressor and batteries that will maintain temperatures for up to 100 hours. Since they do not involve the use of dry ice (considered a hazardous material) these units can be loaded on any type of plane including passenger planes. 


Three options for air freight


Next Flight Out - As the name implies, the freight is shipped out as soon as a flight is available.  Also referred to as expedited. This is the fastest option but, of course the most expensive.


Consolidated Shipping - This option combines goods from multiple shippers to ship together.  Typically this is on a set schedule. Combining products and moving on consistent cycles helps to secure more economical rates.


Deferred - This is the slowest, least reliable option. Goods are held until there is space available on a flight -- think standby but for goods. This does have the greatest cost savings for freight that does not have to arrive on a set schedule.


Cost structures


For pricing, size is not as much a concern as weight (unless super oversized).  Air carriers use volumetric weight for pricing which is the weight of the package at the minimum density accepted by the carrier, also known as dimensional weight. This is as opposed to actual weight, or gross weight. The most economical rates can be obtained if a Unit Load Device (ULD) can be filled or nearly filled.


Other additional fees

Fuel Surcharge Charge - Are fees for fluctuating fuel costs, it protects the transport companies from the volatility of fuel prices.


Security Surcharges - Are fees for security measures required at airports. This applies to the screenings and handling processes that certain goods must undergo depending on the product and the airport location.


Airline Terminal Handling Fees - This applies to all air shipments and covers the costs associated with handling cargo at both the origin and destination - may be included in the air freight fee or as a separate line item.


Customs Clearance Fees - This applies to any goods crossing the border and is for preparation of the documents required for customs clearance into the receiving country. If a company has a customs broker already, it should ensure that these charges are not on its invoice.


Associated Trucking Fees - To get the goods to or from the airport, a truck would pick up or drop off. The cost of this could be listed separately or be included in a door to door quote.


Cargo Insurance - Generally arranged by a freight forwarder, it covers the cargo should there be damage or loss.


As challenging as the last minute or unorthodox request can be, knowing your transport options and having basic knowledge of what is required can really take your business to the next level.  Is airfreight something you have used in the past?  Would you use it now?



Publish date: 
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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