Air freight logistics is the shipment of goods via a chartered or scheduled air carrier. Air freight is a popular choice for many companies as it ensures passage for their goods to anywhere in the world that an aircraft can fly to and land. Goods transported by air have the advantage of being taken to their final destination at high speed which could prove advantageous if the shipment is time sensitive. For smaller and medium sized companies, it allows them to participate in international trade in as an effective manner as larger companies. Furthermore, shipments that are transported via air carrier go through a higher level of security than other methods which makes it one of the most secure ways to transport goods.
There are a few choices when it comes to organising an air freight delivery:
- Consolidated Freight – Where one flight contains many shipments.
- Back to back or Direct Services – Where a flight contains one single shipment.
- Charter Services – Where an entire freight plane is chartered for a single air freight delivery.
These shipments will either be placed into the hold of a regular passenger jet or in a dedicated freight aircraft, which can hold huge amounts of cargo on one flight.
How does Air Freight Work?
In a lot of cases, air freight is arranged by an experienced Freight Forwarding Agency. Freight Forwarders contract with a number of companies covering sea, air or road to transport goods on behalf of their clients. Although some Freight Forwarders have their own warehouses and vehicles, they aren’t necessarily the ones to carry out the transportation. Usually, they are the experts that are able to lead on the logistics and arrangements that will enable a smooth process giving companies piece of mind that their goods will be delivered.
These are the general steps to receive shipment of your goods via air freight:
- Choose an air freight company and negotiate a price to ship your goods.
- The Freight Forwarder will arrange for your goods to be collected pre-packed or will arrange for the packing to be done prior to transportation.
- The goods will be taken to the airport and go through Customs checks at the point of origin.
- The goods are loaded onto the plane. If being delivered with a consolidated shipment, the plane will remain on the ground until it is filled with cargo which could take a few days.
- On arrival at its destination, the shipment will go through another Customs inspection and will not be released into the country until all duty and taxes are paid.
- The shipment is delivered to you as per the agreement with your freight forwarding company.
The Advantages of Air Freight
There are a number of advantages for transporting goods by air. These include:
- Efficiency – Air freight is quick, particularly if you use a direct service. You can expect goods to be at its intended destination within days of sending it whilst sea freight can take several weeks.
- Good Value on Smaller Deliveries – Air freight is charged based on weight as opposed to volume which makes it more cost effective to send smaller deliveries via air freight than by sea.
- More Options – Shipping companies are able to offer more options to the importer with air freight, including consols and direct routes.
- Less Potential to Damage Shipment – Providing the goods are correctly packaged, air freight is usually a better way of shipping fragile items as damage is less likely compared to sea freight.
- More Traceable – As flights are tracked, shipments are more easily traceable which can give businesses more peace of mind.
The Disadvantages of Air Freight
Depending on what exactly you’re shipping and where you are shipping it to, air freight could potentially cause businesses some problems. Some of these include:
- Expense – Using air freight can be a lot more expensive than sea freight, not just for the cost of delivery but for import duty and VAT. These are calculated as a percentage of the cost of the goods plus the cost of shipping
- Logistical Restrictions – When using a consolidated freight shipment, the business will have to wait until the flight is full with other deliveries before it is sent. This can add time to the delivery with some flights only going once or twice a week to main destinations.
- Transport Restrictions – Air freight is much stricter in what it is allowed to transport than sea freight. Hazardous materials such as explosives, gases, flammable or radioactive items, toxic chemicals and strong magnets are among some of the items that are prohibited from being delivered by air freight.
- Environmental Restrictions – Air freight is considered worse for the environment compared to shipping goods by sea.
Should I use a Freight Forwarder?
A freight forwarder assists companies in the process of transporting goods from one place to another. They use the most cost-effective methods with a suitable shipping company to ensure that every point of the journey goes smoothly.
Freight forwarders contract with a number of companies covering sea, air or road to transport goods on behalf of their clients. Although some freight forwarders have their own warehouses and vehicles, they aren’t necessarily the ones to carry out the transportation. Usually, they are the experts that are able to lead on the logistics and arrangements that will enable a smooth process giving companies piece of mind that their goods will be delivered.
Why do Businesses Use Freight Forwarders?
Freight forwarders are seen as a necessary extension to many businesses. Mistakes made in shipping processes can be costly and delay goods getting to the places they need to go.
The wealth of knowledge and expertise they have on the process of importing and exporting is invaluable to companies and saves them both time and money.