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World’s Top International Air Cargo Carriers

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

February 19, 2024

9 min read

The demand for air freight has increased with the growth of eCommerce industry. Known to be the most expensive mode of shipping, it is loved for its speed and efficiency. It is considered best for high-value shipments as well as those that are time-sensitive. eCommerce companies use air cargo to ship goods on priority. Statistics show that more than 52 million metric tons of goods are transported through airlines every year. The increasing demand for this mode of shipment has given rise to the emergence of several air cargo carriers around the world. In this article, you will learn about the top international air cargo carriers in addition to the benefits and types of air cargo services. We have also shared how top cargo carriers help air freight forwarders enhance customer experience. Read on to find out!

International Air Cargo Carriers

How do Leading Cargo Airlines Assist Air Freight Forwarders in Improving Customer Service?

Cargo airlines play a significant role in improving the services provided by air freight forwarders. This helps enhance the customer experience and builds goodwill in the market. But how does collaboration with leading cargo airlines help? Let’s find out!

  1. Hassle-Free Clearance

Top cargo airlines provide all the necessary details related to customs clearance beforehand. This is communicated to the freight forwarders as they approach these airlines. They can also check the same online and prepare their consignments along with the necessary documents accordingly.

The clearance procedure for international shipping is lengthy. There are multiple steps involved in the process. However, as the freight forwarders are imparted necessary knowledge about the paperwork, it speeds up the process.

  1. Quick On-Boarding of Cargo

Top cargo airlines enable speedy onboarding of all kinds of cargo. They provide the necessary onboarding guidelines online. This includes information related to the required documents, packaging, prohibited items, and more. With all these details readily available beforehand, the freight forwarders can keep their consignments ready for shipment well on time. It diminishes the chances of delay or detainment of consignments.

  1. Available At All Times

Leading cargo airlines offer daily flights to various parts of the world. They can carry several tonnes of cargo on each flight. Thus, sending your goods around the globe is possible whenever you want. Freight forwarders can commit to 1-2 day international deliveries by collaborating with a reliable cargo airline. They can keep their supplies flowing to different places across the globe and enhance customer experience with rapid deliveries.

  1. Careful Handling

All kinds of goods including delicate items, electronics, and perishables are shipped by air to distant lands. Top international air cargo carriers ensure that each kind of shipment is handled carefully. They segregate the packages based on their type and carefully place them in the flight to ship them safely. They even develop customized solutions for freight forwarders to avoid damage to the consignments.

Top International Air Cargo Carriers: Key Players in the Industry

Many air cargo carriers have come into being over the last few decades. This is because of the growing number of international shipments. Research reveals that air cargo makes up 35% of the total international trade by value even though it accounts for less than 1% of the global trade by volume. It is essential to choose an air cargo carrier carefully after learning about its services and position in the market. Choosing a reputed cargo carrier is the first step towards offering timely deliveries. Here is a look at the top international air cargo carriers:

  1. Federal Express

One of the leading air cargo carriers, FedEx, is known to deliver around 6.6 million packages around the world every year. It boasts expertise in supply chain and adequate delivery capacity.

  1. DHL Aviation

It provides air cargo services through its large fleet comprising 250 aircraft. The company covers as many as 220 international destinations. You can ship a wide variety of items that come under general as well as special categories using this air cargo carrier.

  1. UPS Airlines

A part of one of the largest US package delivery and supply chain management organization, UPS Airlines safely transports a wide variety of goods to different destinations across the globe. It has a fleet of 280 aircraft that facilitate frequent flights.

  1. Cargolux

It provides air cargo services to 90 destinations around the world. You can ship high-value goods through this reliable cargo carrier. Based in Luxembourg, the company uses a fleet of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft.

  1. Lufthansa Cargo

The air cargo division of Lufthansa Group enables you to ship your goods speedily and safely to 300 destinations across the globe. It also offers facilities such as warehousing, customs clearance, and distribution.

  1. Emirates SkyCargo

A reliable air cargo, Emirates SkyCargo is known for its huge fleet comprising 260 aircraft. It uses advanced technology to ensure safe and smooth deliveries across 85 countries. One of the top international air cargo carriers, it covers as many as 155 destinations enabling you to reach customers living in different parts of the world.

  1. Qatar Airways

The third largest international cargo carrier, Qatar Airways is known for its impeccable cargo services. It ships general as well as special cargo to various destinations worldwide. 

  1. Korean Air Cargo

It has a fleet of 153 aircraft that ship your goods to 128 destinations across 45 countries. The international air cargo carrier has established its name in the industry by providing safe and timely deliveries.

  1. China Airlines Cargo

An exclusive division of China Airlines, it specializes in delivering general as well as special cargo. It offers an extensive range of supply chain and logistics services including warehousing, clearance, and distribution.

  1. Cathay Pacific Cargo

It operates from Hong Kong International Airport, known for being one of the busiest cargo airports. It ships goods to as many as 188 international destinations spanning 51 countries. In addition to offering reliable cargo facilities, Cathay Pacific Cargo provides extensive logistics and supply chain solutions. Its services include warehousing customs clearance and distribution.

Types of Cargo Using Air Freight

Two categories of cargo have been defined for air freight to cater to different shipping requirements. Here is a look at these in detail:

  1. General Cargo

General cargo is the more commonly used cargo service. It involves various kinds of fast-moving commercial goods (FMCG). These are the items that may require quick shipping but do not need special handling. Some of the examples of goods that fall under this category include:

  • Clothes and fiber products
  • Electrical appliances that operate without built-in batteries
  • Books and other publications
  • Household products
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Beauty products
  • Sports equipment that does not require special handling
  1. Special Cargo

As the name suggests, it contains goods that require careful handling. It also has specific packaging, labeling, and documentation requirements due to its nature. They also have special regulations that should be followed at the time of preparing and accepting them. Some of the items that shipped under this category include the following:

  • Dangerous goods
  • Perishable items or temperature-controlled goods
  • High-value or delicate items
  • Important Documents
  • Human remains

Advantages of Air Cargo Services

Here is a look at the various advantages of using air cargo services:

  1. Fast Shipping

One of the reasons why this method of shipping is preferred over others is because it offers quick shipping solutions. Anyone who requires transporting their goods quickly can opt for air cargo services. If you choose a reliable international air cargo carrier, the departure and arrival times are mostly adhered to. Besides, they offer frequent service. Thus, they facilitate rapid deliveries.

  1. High Security

Top cargo airlines take special care of your goods during transit. You can be sure that your shipment will reach its destination safely when you choose this mode.

  1. Delivery around the Globe

Air cargo enables you to ship your goods to different parts of the world. It is the perfect choice for long-distance shipments that need to be delivered at the earliest. Top international air cargo carriers have a wide network. You can use their services to ship goods to customers across the globe.

  1. No Need for Extensive Packaging

Air freight delivery is comparatively safer than sea freight. Thus, they do not require extensive packaging. So, you can save some money as well as effort spent on packaging.

  1. Order Tracking

Top international air cargo carriers allow you to track your goods as they are shipped to different parts of the world. You can keep track of the departure as well as the arrival of your consignments by using their web application. 

  1. Lower Insurance Premium

Air freight charges are usually higher than other modes of shipment. However, the insurance premium paid is lesser when compared to other modes such as sea or road.

CargoX: Enhancing Your International Air Cargo Shipping

Shiprocket’s CargoX is your dependable international logistics service for moving your large shipments across borders. We serve more than 100 overseas destinations and ensure timely B2B deliveries. The compelling features you will find with our service are:

  • Instant Quote
  • Pick-up within 24 hours 
  • Digitalized procedures
  • Total visibility of shipments
  • Lucid invoices
  • Simple record keeping
  • No unstated fees
  • No limitations on weight
  • Vast network of couriers
  • Superior conflict resolution


International air cargo carriers have made shipping convenient and quick. Research shows that goods worth more than USD 6 trillion are transported by air each year. Top cargo companies facilitate hassle-free clearance, quick onboarding and careful handling of packages. Qatar Airways, Emirates Skycargo, Federal Express, DHL, Korean Air Cargo, Cargolux and Lufthansa Cargo are among the most trusted air cargo carriers. Even though this mode of shipment may be expensive, it offers several advantages over other modes. One of the main advantages is speedy delivery to different parts of the world. In addition to this, it demands low insurance premiums and enables real-time order tracking and secure shipping.

When is an FDA license required during international shipping?

You need to show an FDA license or certificate in case you are shipping products that come under the pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetic categories. You also require this license to ship medical devices and herbal products. Failure to produce the same may result in detainment of your consignment and delay your deliveries. It is best to consult with the FDA to understand the specific licensing requirements.

Do international air cargo carriers provide customs clearance service?

Yes, many of them provide customs clearance services through third-party customs agents. You may have to request this service separately.

What is air cargo MOP?

Air cargo MOP (Master Operating Plan) is a set of processes involved in shipping air cargo. It covers the entire process of shipping from shipper to consignee. This includes 19 main processes and 78 sub-processes that are divided into five broad categories.

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