Air Freight Terminology 101 – What Is Air Freight?

December 19, 2023

Air Freight Terminology 101 – What Is Air Freight?

Air freight plays a pivotal role in the global supply chain, facilitating the swift movement of goods across borders. If you’re new to the logistics game or simply looking to enhance your understanding, this Air Freight Terminology 101 guide is your ticket to unraveling the jargon surrounding air cargo.

Understanding the Basics: What Is Air Freight?

At its core, air freight involves the transportation of goods by air, utilizing cargo planes to ensure speedy deliveries. This method is renowned for its efficiency, making it a preferred choice for businesses seeking timely and secure shipments.

Key Air Freight Terms Demystified

1. Freight Forwarder:

A crucial player in the air freight game, a freight forwarder is an intermediary that organizes and facilitates shipments, ensuring a seamless process from origin to destination.

2. AWB (Air Waybill):

Think of it as a passport for your cargo. An Air Waybill is a vital document that outlines the terms and conditions of transportation, providing a record of the shipped goods.

3. IATA (International Air Transport Association):

The IATA sets the standards for the aviation industry, including air cargo. Familiarizing yourself with their regulations can streamline your air freight experience.

4. Customs Broker:

Navigating customs regulations can be a maze. A customs broker is your guide, handling the necessary paperwork and ensuring compliance with international trade laws.

5. Cargo Aircraft:

Unlike passenger planes, cargo aircraft are specifically designed to transport goods. Understanding the different types, such as freighters and combis, is key to optimizing your shipping strategy.

Efficiency in Action: Express vs. Standard Shipping

Express Shipping:

For time-sensitive deliveries, express shipping is the go-to option. While it comes at a premium, the rapid transit times make it an ideal choice for perishable or high-value goods.

Standard Shipping:

If time is on your side, standard shipping offers a cost-effective solution. This method may take longer, but it’s a practical choice for less time-sensitive shipments.

Types of Air Freight Services

There are various types of air freight services catering to different shipping needs:

1. Consolidate Freight:

This service combines shipments from multiple senders into a single flight, promoting cost-effectiveness. Although it may have slightly longer transit times, it is a preferred option for small businesses looking to ship goods internationally without the expense of a dedicated cargo flight.

2. Direct Service:

Geared towards urgent or high-priority shipments, this service provides a quicker transit time and affords the shipper greater control over their cargo. It is particularly suitable for time-sensitive items such as fresh produce or critical machinery parts.

3. Chartered Service:

Offering the highest level of flexibility and control, chartered air freight is ideal for oversized cargo, high-value items, or sensitive equipment. While it comes at a higher cost, it ensures customized handling and scheduling tailored to specific requirements.

Navigating the Air Freight Landscape

  • Choosing the Right Service:

The first step in mastering air freight is selecting the right service for your needs. Whether it’s door-to-door, airport-to-airport, or a combination, understanding the available options is crucial.

  • Weight and Volume Considerations:

Air freight charges are often based on the chargeable weight, which considers both the actual weight and the volume of the cargo. Optimizing this balance can lead to cost savings.

  • Security Measures:

With the heightened importance of cargo security, familiarize yourself with the security measures in place, from X-ray screening to tamper-evident seals.

In essence, air freight is more than just transporting goods by air. It’s a dynamic process influenced by an array of factors, from regulations set by international bodies to the logistics intricacies handled by freight forwarders. Mastering the terminology is your key to unlocking the full potential of air cargo, ensuring your shipments soar to new heights.

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-By Arti Tawani