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How To Ship Cargo By Air Freight?

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

March 31, 2024

9 min read

In today’s globally interconnected world, businesses depend on effective logistics to move goods across borders. Air freight stands out among the various modes of freight transportation. It is an essential component of the supply chain, providing a host of advantages that promote economic growth and international trade.

The demand for air cargo worldwide reached 22.8 billion CTKs in December 2023, the greatest traffic in the previous two years. This is a 10.8% YoY increase, the most yearly growth since October 2021. 

 As long as it doesn’t endanger aircraft safety, almost anything may be transported by air following the IATA guidelines for handling special goods. However, understanding the special standards and handling procedures for air cargo is critical for successful transport. A vital component of air freight forwarding is precise planning, which is made easier by accurate information on freight handling.

So here’s everything you need to know about shipping cargo by air,  air freight rates, and the benefits of air freight.

How To Ship Cargo By Air Freight

Sending Cargo by Air: A Detailed Procedure

Air freight transportation involves numerous steps to ensure a smooth and efficient operation. Here’s a detailed procedure to guide you through each stage:

Assess Your Shipping Requirements

You should start by examining your package. Take note of the size, fragility, and nature of the contents. Doing this lets you determine the dimensions, weight, and requirements for handling and transportation of the shipment.  These variables will help you choose the right air freight services and calculate related costs. Consider urgency and cost-effectiveness while choosing an efficient air freight service provider.

Choose the Right Service

After you have evaluated your requirements, research various air freight solutions. Take into account features, costs, and feedback from their previous clients. Remember to pick a logistics service that can offer all-inclusive solutions, such as shipping procedure streamlining, secure delivery, real-time tracking, etc.

Prepare Documentation

You should prepare all the necessary documents beforehand. Make sure all paperwork is ready, including the packing list and business invoice. Ensure that regulations are followed for a seamless customs clearance and overseas shipping process.

Packing and Labelling Goods

The next step is packing and labelling goods. Use sufficient cushioning and strong packing to protect the contents of your package. Remember to label your package properly with shipment information and handling guidelines.

Arrange for the Pickup

After packing and labelling your goods, plan your airport transit or work with your air freight service provider to arrange a pickup. Follow handling guidelines to ensure the security of your valuables while they are in transit. 

Monitor and Wait for Delivery

You can use the tracking tools provided to you to track the status of shipments and work with the receiver to set up delivery. By keeping yourself updated about the status you can deal with any potential delays.

Know Air Cargo Rates

You should be familiar with variables that affect air cargo rates, such as distance, weight, and size. To minimise expenses and prevent unexpected fees, pick a supplier with transparent prices.

Necessary Documents for Air Cargo Shipping

When transporting items by air, having all the relevant documentation is essential to ensure a smooth and hassle-free process. Let’s examine the necessary documentation you will require:

  1. Commercial Invoice: This is a detailed receipt that lists the products being sent, together with the overall cost that the client must pay.
  1. Air Waybill (AWB): It is a contract between you and the airline outlining the terms and conditions of transportation and confirming acceptance of your items for dispatch.
  1. Certificate of Insurance: In the event of any unanticipated events during transit leading to the loss or damage of your consignment, this certificate will prove that your shipment is insured.
  1. List of Packing Items: It is an all-inclusive inventory list that has every item in your shipment. It helps customs officers confirm the goods and guarantee seamless processing.
  1. Certificate of Origin (CO): It is an important document required for international shipments that confirms the origin of the goods.  It helps in recognising trade regulations and customs fees. 
  1. The Bill of Lading: It is a formal agreement between the shipper and the carrier. It is a receipt of acceptance by the carrier that provides essential facts regarding the shipment, such as sender and receiver information.
  1. Inspection Certification: It indicates that the cargo has been properly inspected and satisfies all quality and quantity standards.

Four Primary Types of Airborne Cargo

There are several types of air freight, each with unique qualities and specifications. Now, let’s examine the four main categories of air cargo:

General Cargo

General cargo includes common things such as clothing, books, and devices (without batteries). The transit time for general cargo can be longer because these items are not subject to strict time constraints.

Special Cargo

Special cargo refers to commodities that require specific means of transport. This category includes products with unique features and valuable packages like fine art, live animals etc. There are unique standards for packing, labelling, and doing paperwork for each subcategory of special cargo.

Dangerous Goods

Substances that pose a risk to the crew, aircraft or anyone else’s safety during transportation are classified as dangerous products. These commodities include dangerous goods like radioactive or flammable chemicals, and things like spray cans. To reduce risk related to these products during transit, proper identification, labelling, and handling is essential. 

Temperature Sensitive Goods

Goods that must maintain a specific temperature during transportation must be handled carefully. Air cargo services are suitable for shipping temperature-sensitive items because of their quick arrival times and regulated surroundings.

This covers vaccinations, blood supplies, organs, etc. Perishable goods including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, and flowers are also included in this category. For these items to remain functional and intact, certain temperature requirements must be met. 

Understanding Air Cargo Rates in India per kg

Several variables affect air freight shipping prices, such as the item’s weight and size, the distance it must travel, and the urgency of its delivery. The normal freight handling fees at airports in India vary from 74 paise to INR 2.22 per kilogram. Special freight costs, on the other hand, range from INR 1.47 to INR 6 per kilogram.

In addition to the base price, further expenses could include airport transfers, terminal handling fees, fuel and security surcharges, etc. You will also need to account for any additional fees that may arise for door-to-door shipments, such as cargo insurance, pickup and delivery, and customs brokerage.

Carriers take into account both the item’s actual and volumetric weight, whichever is larger when calculating the cost. The calculation of volumetric weight involves multiplying the volume of the package by a predetermined factor, usually 167. For example, a package measuring 50cm x 30cm x 20cm would have a volumetric weight of around 6 kilograms.

Air Freight Shipping: Procedure and Business Benefits

Careful planning is necessary for the successful shipping of freight by air. It’s important to know the weight and dimensions of your shipment so that you can determine the best handling techniques. Selecting the right air cargo service provider streamlines the procedure, and having correct paperwork facilitates a seamless customs-clearing experience. Pack your goods carefully, label them, and keep an eye on their progress to ensure they stay safe throughout transportation.  

A few of the advantages air freight shipping offers to eCommerce businesses are listed below:

  • Speed: Air freight is the fastest way to carry goods. It can deliver goods in hours or days. It is ideal for urgent medical supplies or perishable goods.
  • Global Reach: It can connect producers and consumers across continents. It can deliver commodities to almost any place across the globe, including remote areas. 
  • Dependable and Predictable: Air freight is a reliable option due to its strict schedules. This reduces the possibility of delays and guarantees that items arrive at their destination on time.
  • Flexibility: Air freight offers a versatile alternative to fulfill a variety of transportation demands. It can be used for a range of cargo, from high-value goods to small packages.
  • Reduced Packaging and Storage: Air freight often requires less packaging than other means of transportation, saving money and decreasing waste. Reduced warehousing requirements lead to quicker clearing processes and shorter travel times, which can lower supply chain costs.
  • Lower Insurance Costs: As air freight is more secure and travels faster, insurance costs are lower, which can save money.
  • Prompt Recovery Times: In the event of errors or delayed departures, air freight provides a quicker recovery time compared to alternative carriers. To minimise delays and guarantee on-time delivery, missing goods might frequently be carried on the next flight that comes available.

Simplify Your Shipping With CargoX: The Complete Solution For You!

CargoX is an international air cargo shipping solution catering to businesses of all sizes. They simplify the process of sending heavy and bulk shipments to over 100 countries, providing B2B deliveries. Real-time tracking and AI recommendations ensure that packages are delivered efficiently. At the same time, affordable rates and 24/7 support contribute to cost-effective and convenient shipping. 

CargoX offers features like appointment deliveries and seamless integration with popular ERP systems such as SAP, enhancing operational efficiency. It is a straightforward three-step process that starts with creating a shipment, selecting a courier partner using their AI tool, and handing them over to the chosen courier partner. Whether a small business or a large enterprise, Shiprocket’s CargoX empowers you to streamline shipping operations, allowing you to focus on business growth and customer satisfaction.


When considering air freight, it’s essential to recognise its significance in global commerce. Understanding the process and ensuring the proper documentation is crucial for smooth shipping operations despite its intricacies. By partnering with professional freight forwarders, you can navigate the complexities and leverage the benefits of air shipping, including speed, global reach, and enhanced security. Embracing air logistics empowers you to expand your market reach, fulfill customer demands, and remain competitive in today’s interconnected world of international trade.

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