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Steps for Successful Air Cargo Shipping: Proven Strategies

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

April 3, 2024

10 min read

Global trade would have been a far-fetched business activity without air cargo shipping joining the line of transportation modes. It enables businesses to transport goods quickly and efficiently across the globe in this fast-paced eCommerce world, where speed is the new norm. A market survey by experts indicates that 38% of online shoppers are likely to abandon or cancel their order if the delivery takes more than a week.

In this article, we’ll help you explore the steps for successful air cargo shipping, strategies to prevent delays, and the importance of leveraging expert assistance to streamline your operations. The air cargo industry is a vital link in the global supply chain, offering fast and reliable delivery services. However, the speed and efficiency of air cargo shipping banks upon several factors, like proper planning, regulatory compliance, and effective logistics management. You’ll experience a drastic shift in your business’s operational efficiency and bottom line by following some critical steps for successful air cargo shipping.

Successful Air Cargo Shipping

10 Steps To Master Air Cargo Shipping

The steps involved in successful air cargo shipping include the following:

Check the Suitability of Your Freight for Air Transport

You must provide detailed information about the nature of your goods and your shipping goals to the logistics partner you choose. This fundamental piece of information will help the logistics partner determine if your cargo is fit for air transport or if air shipping is the best option for your needs. Modern air cargo services may range from small aircraft to large freighters that are capable of transporting heavy loads. Although air transport may offer unmatched speed and flexibility, its cost-effectiveness varies based on the goods’ value and weight. You must unhesitantly communicate any budget constraints to your logistics provider before signing up for the services. This will allow them to tailor solutions to accommodate your spending limit.

Figure Out and Declare Special Cargo Needs

Businesses may need to ship different types of cargo via air, from hazardous materials to temperature-sensitive products. Modern freighter aircraft are capable of handling a variety of such special shipping requirements. However, you must fully disclose these needs and comply with all regulatory labelling and documentation, including the proper UN and NA classification numbers. A proper declaration from your end ensures legal transport and also protects the cargo, aircraft, and personnel. 

Define Your Freight’s Dimensions and Weight Precisely

Aircraft usually hold a limited capacity to carry cargo. Therefore, it’s highly important to examine and report the exact measurements and weight of your shipment. This will ensure that it fits the aircraft’s space and complies with the legal weight limits. Any inaccuracies found in cargo dimensions may cause unnecessary delays or leave you paying additional fees for shipping. So, the precise dimension and weight details are crucial for selecting the most appropriate aircraft and avoiding any disruptions.

Clarify Handling Requirements for Pickup and Delivery

You need to address the potential ground handling issues by specifying your shipment’s start and endpoints. You should also inform the air cargo service what kind of services you require; door-to-door, point-to-point, or intermodal services. Ensure the service has the necessary loading and unloading arrangements.

Communicate Crucial Shipping Information and Expectations 

You must inform your logistics provider about the important deadlines and specific requirements for your shipment, like the “ready time” for collection and “protect times” that safeguard your urgent requirements. The deadlines highlight the urgency and implications of potential delays and you should choose the right transportation solution that can meet deadlines. You may opt for an express air charter service for urgent deliveries, but a standard airfreight option with a longer transit time may be fit for less urgent shipments. 

Address All Booking Requirements and Administrative Details

Before finalising your air transport booking, you must run through any administrative and contractual needs, such as adjusting credit limits for higher-cost air charter services. Also, familiarise yourself with the payment terms and operational schedules of your logistics provider to avoid any misunderstandings or delays in shipping.

Keep All Parties Informed and Documentation Accurate

The success of your air transport heavily depends on proper documentation and clear communication with all involved parties, like the shippers, brokers, carriers, and customs agents. Any discrepancies in this chain can disrupt the movement and delivery of shipment. So, make sure all the necessary paperwork is complete and all requirements are communicated effectively throughout the transit.

Fulfill Specific Requirements for International Shipments

The requirements generally change when you’re shipping internationally. You must consider appointing a competent customs broker to handle the import regulations and complex documentation. It’s highly important to understand and comply with the customs process, including the availability of customs overtime services, to prevent delays in cross-border air shipments.

Prepare and Secure Your Cargo Properly for Air Transport

Your freight should be suitably packed, labelled, and prepared for air transport while meeting all requirements for loading and securing within the aircraft. You can do this by using appropriate containers and pallets.  You have to adhere to weight distribution and structural loading guidelines to ensure the safety of your goods.

Maintain the Flow of Communication Throughout the Shipping Process

Constant communication between you and your logistics provider is crucial at every step of the shipping process. You must ensure that all necessary contacts are available for any queries or updates regarding your shipment. Availability and prompt communication help you prevent and address any delays or issues while shipping your goods via air.

How To Prevent Delays in Air Cargo Shipping

Delays in air cargo shipping can tarnish your brand’s reputation. A market research report says that if a customer order is not delivered within two days of the expected delivery date, 69% of consumers are less likely to make another purchase from the online store. It’s therefore important to minimise the risk of delays as much as possible: 

Ensure Accuracy in Documentation 

The first thing to be careful about is having accurate shipping documents for air cargo shipping. The errors or omissions in paperwork will cost you more than you can imagine, both in monetary terms and brand image. It can lead to possible delays, additional charges, or even the refusal of cargo at customs. This is how you may prevent these issues:

  • Create Checklists: Checklists are essential, and the more elaborate they are the better. They will help you ensure all the required information for all types of shipment is included correctly.
  • Double-Check Details: You must review the accuracy of all your documents before submission, especially the airway bill (AWB), commercial invoice, and other import and export forms.
  • Tie up with Partners: Involve your freight forwarders, customs brokers and others to help you ensure that all your shipping documents being submitted meet the international and domestic requirements. 

Stay Updated with Regulations

The rules and regulations are always under constant review by regulatory bodies like IATA and are updated and refined often. Needless to say, proper knowledge of these regulations will ensure smooth sailing for your business. Here is how you can stay informed about the latest guidelines.

  • Track Changes: All new updates are made available to the public and can be directly checked with regulatory bodies like the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and customs authorities.
  • Attend Training Sessions and Workshops: Workshops, seminars, webinars and all sorts of training sessions are available for your relevant industry. So, participate in these programmes and stay up to date with the best practices and latest regulations. 
  • Utilise Expertise: If you want to take the load off your shoulders, you can always opt to seek expert advice from experienced customs brokers and freight forwarders.

Build and Nurture Strong Relationships

You can significantly reduce your risk of delay in shipments by cultivating strong relationships with all stakeholders in the air cargo supply chain. These are a few ways to successfully maintain professional bonds:

  • Regular Communication: Maintain open and consistent communication with carriers, agents, and logistics partners to get regular updates and keep constant checks. This can help you anticipate and mitigate potential issues.
  • Provide Feedback: It’s also important and a fruitful strategy to share both positive feedback and constructive criticism with your partners. This productive exchange of views can help improve service levels and operational efficiency in the overall shipping process.
  • Leverage Network: You can use your established relationships to solve problems in the shipping process quickly. A good rapport is usually a result of striking a balance between expedited handling and unnecessary delays.

Plan for Contingencies

You may put in your best efforts to make a perfect shipping plan, yet unforeseen events may take you by surprise and cause delays. So, having a contingency plan in place is inevitable to mitigate these risks. Use these tricks to plan for any contingencies on the way:

  • Locate Alternate Routes and Carriers: Find some alternative shipping routes and carriers to use as a backup if your initial plan fails.
  • Stay Updated: Keep track of the global events, weather conditions, and other elements that could affect your shipping routes and timelines.
  • Make Buffer Time: Plan for and use buffer time in your shipping schedule to accommodate unexpected delays in air shipping, whenever feasible.

Pack Smart

You need proper and solid packaging to prevent any damage to your products. It also helps you ensure that your cargo is not held up or rejected by carriers or customs. Here’s what you can do to pack your shipments smarter:

  • Use Appropriate Materials: Take into account the weight, fragility, and dimensions of the cargo while selecting the most suitable packaging materials for air transport.
  • Label Clearly: Put appropriate labels on all your packages with handling instructions, destination details, and any necessary hazard symbols to keep them safe.
  • Follow Packing Guidelines: Stay in line with the carrier and international packing standards to decrease the risk of damage or repacking requirements.

Expert Assistance with CargoX

CargoX, a product of Shiprocket, is a specialised logistics platform designed to help you streamline and optimise your air cargo shipping process. It provides you with air shipping tools and services that make air transportation a cakewalk in various ways:

  • CargoX ensures that your cargo reaches its destination quickly and timely about 90% of the time.
  • It serves more than 100 countries and simplifies the filing and management of cross-border shipping documentation.
  • You’ll receive real-time tracking and updates for shipments to reduce uncertainty, and make better decisions.
  • With flexible shipping options, you can choose your shipping timeline within your budget to any destination worldwide. 
  • It helps you easily collaborate and stay connected with all parties involved in the supply chain, improving coordination and response times.

Conclusion

A combination of meticulous planning, adherence to regulations, and proactive management goes a long way when it comes to successful air cargo shipping. Shipping your products within the borders of your country or internationally requires a certain level of skill, training, and streamlined operations at your end. Any sort of delay in shipments can hamper your business’s reputation and even lead to additional costs. However, businesses can effortlessly enhance their shipping efficiency, reduce the risk of delays, and maintain competitive advantage in the global marketplace by following the outlined steps, staying informed, and leveraging expert services.

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