What is air freight and how does it work?

There are many ways to transport your goods, whether that be using sea freight, rail freight, air freight, or road freight. It is essential to do your research while weighing up your options.

air freight

What is air freight?

Air freight can be described as simply, the movement of goods via aeroplane transport. It can be used for smaller, higher value goods that need urgent transportation. There can be different types of air freight.

Consolidated freight

Consolidated freight, or consols, refers to one single flight that transports many different shipments. Consolidated freight can be the cheaper option out of the different types, as it offers reduced rates and can also provide reliable schedules. This can allow flight managers to accurately plan the supply chains. Furthermore, one of the best advantages of consolidation freight is that the sender only pays for the space that they use.

There is also a much lower chance of damage to any products that are being transported using consolidation air freight methods. There is better inventory control, less handling, and less transit time. Therefore, the consolidation method is a very effective option for transporting goods.

Direct services

Direct services are where one single shipment is transported in the hold of a scheduled plane. This service means that the hold of the plane is usually entirely booked out for this purpose. Direct services, or back-to-back services, can reduce the risk of any damage to the goods that are being transported. Direct services are also useful for ensuring that shipments stay together and reduce the risk of loss in transport. This method can be useful for rare or expensive goods.

However, direct services can be amongst the most expensive, as it requires to pay to use a whole plane for yourself.

Charter services

This can also occasionally be referred to as an ‘air taxi’. Charter services are typically very expensive, as it requires you to book out an entire freight plane for a single delivery. These flights also require certification from the national aviation authority of the associated country.

What are the advantages?

Air freight can be extremely valuable when wanting to transport smaller goods at a faster rate. Aeroplanes are significantly faster than ship. It is also a lot more reliable than other forms of transport. It has a lot more protection against theft and has a lesser risk of damages. Air freight can also be a lot more accurate and is easy to track and trace. There are less costs involved for storage and has overall more control of the goods that have been transported. Another advantage of air freight is that there are many options for a company to choose from. Typically, air freight is good value for smaller deliveries as fees are based on weight rather than volume, sea freight is typically charged by volume.

What are the disadvantages?

However, air freight is much more expensive than other forms of freight transportation. Not only is the actual shipping of the item more expensive, but companies also must pay import duty, as well as VAT. This is calculated as a percentage cost of the cost of goods plus the cost of shipping. Also, if using consolidation transport, then the plane must be full before take-off, which can take some time. Air freight is also a lot stricter on what can and can’t be moved, compared to sea freight. Using air freight is also considered to be less environmentally friendly compared to sea freight.

So, what’s the right decision?

Ultimately, it’s up to the sender to decide on a method for transportation of goods. Air freight can have many benefits, but also has disadvantages, depending on what the shipment is. If the goods are rare or valuable, then air freight transport might be the way to go, as this method of transportation provides more security. However, if trying to save money and save the environment, sea freight might be the better option.

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