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International Air Cargo: Basics, Costs, & Benefits

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

February 13, 2024

12 min read

Getting goods to different places at the right time has become an extreme necessity today, especially for eCommerce businesses. Are you wondering how to get your shipments to your customers in the shortest possible time frame over the largest of distances? Delivery via air is your answer. Today, air freight has become a game-changer in the world of logistics and trade. Accenture has reported a 6% increase in the global international air cargo capacity. It reflects a positive trend in the air cargo industry 

As fascinating as it may seem to send your consignments several distances away to any corner of the world, there are several factors that you must consider while shipping.

The constant growth of the aviation world and its technology have made international shipping easier. It has enabled the eCommerce landscape to expand its horizons by bringing the world closer. From clothes, toys, shoes, and furniture, anything can be shipped via air freight to any part of the globe.

This blog elaborates on everything there is to know about international air cargo and its charges. It also details the dos and don’ts of air shipping.

International Air Cargo Charges

Air Freight Basics: How Is Air Freight Shipped?

The procedure to ship your consignments through air is detailed below:

  • Pickup and registration: The first step is all about the coordination between the business owner who wants to ship a consignment and the freight forwarding partner. The two must come up with an appropriate schedule to pick up the cargo. The shipper must ensure that all the documentation is in order and a picking time must be set up with the freight forwarding partner. It can be done on a call or even by email. All the necessary details must be provided with the shipment to ensure safe and secure deliveries.
  • Verification and tagging: All the shipment details will be validated by the air freight forwarding partner. The cargo must be correctly packed and the right documentation, clearances, and permits should be in place. After this, the carrier will provide an additional layer of packing to ensure that the consignment is shipped without damage. They also tag all the parcels with the right information and shipper’s details along with the handling instructions. 
  • Clearance from the authorities proper to shipping: After the confirmation, labeling, packing, and document verification, the shipment is pushed to its next stage. This stage entails the gaining of the necessary clearances from the authorities in the airport of origin. The relevant declarations and paperwork will be inspected to ensure compliance with the regulations. 
  • Stowage and egress: Post the clearance for export and preparation for stowage, it will be loaded onto the airplane. Loaders, trolleys, and lifters will be used to move the consignments and they will be secured into the airplane to ensure that their position is held during transit. The egress takes place after this.
  • Unloading of cargo: Upon arrival at the destination airport, the unloading of the aircraft carrier begins. It will be unloaded in the designated area and another inspection will take place. Here the package will also be tallied with the information provided during packing.
  • Customs clearance at the destination airport: Upon unloading and inspection in the destination airport, another set of customs clearance procedures will be done there. All the paperwork is crucial here. Even the license documents must be placed. The cargo being shipped to the destination must comply with all the regulations of the destination country as well to gain clearance. 
  • Delivery: The freight forwarding partner must coordinate with the receiving end shippers to make arrangements for the final step of delivery to the customer’s doorstep. This generally happens via road through trucks, vans, or even bikes. 

Understanding Air Freight Costs: How Much Does it Cost to Air Freight?

The cost variation can be rather substantial in air freight shipping. It is affected by several factors making it hard to have a definitive price catalog. The height, size, and distance of shipping will factor into the overall costs. The type of cargo being shipped also influences the pricing. Thus, air freight can be more exorbitant in costs when compared to surface or sea shipping. However, shipping via air is faster.

Calculating Air Freight Costs

The calculation of air freight forwarding costs can vary in many respects. However, to have a general understanding of the concept, follow the procedure below:

  • Determination of volumetric weight of your shipment: The weight and volume are key factors in price determination as they decide the space your parcel will occupy on the plane. The weight is measured in kilograms or pounds based on the region of shipping and the volume is measured in cubic meters. 
  • The destination: The destination also is a price-influencing factor. The greater the distance, the higher the cost of shipping
  • The service chosen: Air freight shipping is mainly categorized as economy, priority, and express shipping. Economy is the most affordable option, but the package takes the longest time to reach its destination. Priority and Express are fast delivery options and they cost a lot more than economy as they get to the destination more quickly.
  • The air freight forwarding partner: The choice of the partner also affects the price of shipping. Their charges can vary based on their policies and quality of service. You must ensure that the partner chosen is reliable and secure. 

International and Express Air Freight Rates Per Kg 

Shipping goods across borders requires efficiency and clarity. The freight forwarding partner must be reliable and transparent. Air freight forwarding being a faster solution makes it a more attractive option. Shipping cargo via air has two distinct options. These include the following:

Variations In Pricing Based On Weight, Distance, and Other Factors

The price can vary based on the following factors:

  • Speed of delivery: The need for overnight deliveries has rapidly increased due to the flourishing eCommerce businesses. The demand for rapid delivery affects shipping costs largely. The type of shipping service chosen will also influence the cost. 
  • Weight and volume of the shipment: As the weight and volume determine the amount of space a consignment will occupy on an aircraft, the cost shall increase with the increase in the size of the parcel. Hence, optimizing your packing strategies is key to keeping your costs in check.
  • Distance: The process of moving a shipment requires a certain expenditure. It can be fuel, maintenance, labor, and more. The location and route also play a role in the cost determination. Naturally, the charges will rise with the increase in distance and difficulty in accessibility of the location.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors play a vital role in the cost of shipping a consignment. The prices will rise during adverse weather conditions due to the added risk factors. Moreover, the demand for air-fuel will also factor in.
  • Disruptions: Bottlenecks, lack of fuel, a surge in labor costs, unavailability of carriers due to increased demands, etc., can cause disruptions in shipping and delivery. Even shutdowns of airports and other such unforeseen acts can halt freight forwarding, leading to greater costs. 

Benefits of Air Freight

The global demand for air cargo increased by 3.8% in October 2023 as compared to October 2022. This increase in global demand highlights the importance of international air cargo.

Here are some benefits of international air freight:

  • Quickest and most efficient shipping method: The fastest mode of transportation is via air. Shipping consignments by air will help you meet your customer’s demands in the shortest possible time frame. What takes several days or weeks to reach your buyer by sea or road can take less than 24 hours via plane.
  • Reliability: Air transportation is extremely reliable making it the perfect choice for you to ship your consignments. Air freight forwarding methods have an exact schedule and precision that minimizes the risk of losing shipments during transit.
  • Security: Airplane shipping processes are extremely secure as the goods are well protected during transit. They are also capable of meeting all special requirements to handle cargo.
  • Subsidized insurance premium: As the goods take a shorter time to reach their destination, the insurance costs will be substantially lower. It poses a cost-saving method for businesses without falling short on the security and safety aspects of their parcels. 

When Shouldn’t One Ship by Air?

Although shipping by air is so advantageous, seeing if it is the best fit for you is necessary. You must not choose air shipping methods when:

  • Cost is a prime factor: As air shipping is the most expensive method of transportation, you must evaluate if this is the best for you. It must not chew away most of your profits and hence the price is a prime concern when choosing air shipping.
  • Quantity of goods is large: When you are shipping large quantities of goods, air shipping might not be the best fit. Given its price, air shipping is suited for small and medium quantities.
  • When the lead time is large: When you have adequate lead time, you can choose alternate methods of shipping to avoid the high costs that air freight forwarding levies. Thus, sir shipping must be considered only when urgency is the prime criterion. 
  • Destination: Remote areas and complicated locations are often hard to reach by air. Hence, understanding your delivery locations is important before choosing air shipping. Sea and road shipping are more accessible to remote areas. 

Industries and Products Best Suited for Air Freight Transportation

Air freight forwarding is best suited for the following goods:

  • Goods of high-value and time-sensitive goods: High-value goods like electronics, medical equipment, industry equipment, machines, etc., are pricey and usually required in a short time. So, air freight forwarding is the best option for them considering the safe, secure, and fast transportation. Products that are hard to find and replace are also to be shipped via air due to their high security.
  • Perishables: All edibles like fruits, vegetables, seafood, flowers, seeds, etc., are shipped via air as they do not tend to stay intact for longer durations. Air shipping is the best option to ensure that they are shipped before they are spoiled. Moreover, such items might also require special handling and shipping factors like temperature control and more, and air shipping easily meets these requirements.
  • Medicines and medical supplies: Medical supplies are often sensitive to the environment and hence require special care. Moreover, they need to reach their destinations as soon as possible. Hence, air freight forwarding is the most reliable and the best-suited option for such goods. 
  • Luxury products: High-end luxury products like jewelry and clothes are always in demand and they tend to have time-sensitive schedules. They also require special handling needs and hence sellers can opt for air freight forwarding. 

Factors Influencing Fluctuations in Air Freight Pricing

Apart from the basic air freight charges, the cost of shipping through air container can be affected by:

  • Security and compliance charges
  • Fuel charges
  • Airport transfers
  • Terminal handling charges
  • Customs brokerages
  • Insurance charges
  • Special handling charges

CargoX: For Seamless Cargo Transport Across Borders

CargoX simplifies the complexities of international air cargo shipping, making transportation of goods smooth for businesses. We extend our services to over 100 countries, helping you reach your international customers anywhere around the globe. With CargoX, you can rest assured that your bulk shipments will be delivered on time.

The advantages of relying on CargoX for your international air cargo shipping are many, like:

  • 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

Conclusion

The world is now extensively connected with the flight facility to any part of the globe and the advancements in the aviation industry. It has brought the world a whole lot closer making it easier for people to begin trade relationships. eCommerce has grown rapidly due to the availability of air freight shipping services.

Although shipping via air is the most expensive method, it is also the most efficient, secure, and reliable way to transport your parcels as quickly as possible. The price of shipping your parcels via air is dependent on factors like distance, volume, and weight of the parcel. Air shipping might not be the best method for all cargo, hence evaluating your requirements is key. Understanding how the air shipping world works and when it is a smart choice will allow you to make the right call while choosing your method of shipping.

Are there different types of air cargo?

The different types of air cargo include special cargo, general cargo, live animals, dangerous or hazardous cargo, high-value or fragile cargo, perishable cargo, and temperature-controlled cargo.

What is considered air freight?

Air freight can mean any of these freight types – express air freight, charter air freight, consolidated air freight, commercial airline, and cargo airline. 

What is the difference between domestic and international air cargo shipping?

The key difference between the two types of air cargo shipping is that domestic shipping is significantly simpler, while international shipping involves handling customs, duties, and many restrictions. Domestic shipments are quicker and frequently more affordable because they only require a shipping label and no other additional paperwork.

What is chargeable weight?

An air freight chargeable weight means how much you will have to pay to send your shipment. It is calculated based on the actual gross weight of your shipment or its volumetric weight, whichever is higher. It means that if your shipment occupies a lot of space, it will incur higher charges even if it’s lightweight.

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