Air Shipment in General
Air shipment can move your products much more quickly than land or sea freight, but there are some things you must take into account. One of these factors is how your products are prepared for shipment. If you can optimize your packaging and containers, you’ll be able to save money, ship more products at once, and better protect your products from damage.
Air shipment does have a number of advantages over other modes of transportation, but it of course has some disadvantages, too. Like anything, the balance of the pros and cons is entirely dependent on the situation at hand. In many cases, it is important to take the time to compare the costs, time, and other factors that differ between land, sea, and air transportation. While in some cases, such as rush orders, air shipment may be the only option, there are other cases where one of the other methods would be the most cost-effective.
How Air Freight Works
When your goods are delivered to an airport, they will be measured and weighed. The measurements will be used to determine the package’s overall volume. If the package weighs less than a kilogram, these measurements are discarded and you will be charged the minimum rate of one kilogram for shipping.
If the package weighs more than one kilogram, then the International Air Transport Association (IATA) formula will be used. The total volume will be divided by the preset IATA coefficient to determine the volumetric weight. This weight is then compared to the overall volume. Whichever of these two numbers is larger determines the rate you will be charged.
You will also be charged an air cargo tariff for shipping. These tariffs are split into five different categories. The first is a general rate that applies to normal packages. For small packages, you will be charged the minimum tariff even if the package weighs less than 45 kilograms. In other cases, the weight will be divided and you will pay the tariff multiple times depending on overall weight and other factors.
There are specific tariffs for certain commodities (Commodity Classification Rates). Other special rates include Specific Commodity Rates, Unit Load Device rates, and Contract Rates. These four types of tariffs vary from country to country and by a number of other factors, so you will want to make certain you understand what tariffs you will be paying before you ship by air.
Advantages of shipping by air
Speed isn’t the only benefit. You also get:
Access to anywhere in the world
Most air freight forwarders have an extensive network of airlines that serve domestic and international locations. So no matter where your customers are, you can get freight to them easily.
Capacity at your fingertips
Because of the frequency of commercial flights, capacity isn’t an issue. Even if a flight is missed, freight can usually get on a later flight that day and still arrive on time. You and your customers can rely on quick, dependable service even with minor delays.
Multiple delivery options
Air shipping offers several delivery options, so you can choose how quickly your cargo arrives:
Domestic delivery options
- Same-day air/next flight out: This is the fastest way to ship by air, outside of charter services. Choose this option to deliver goods on the same day they fly out.
- Next-day air: Next-day air gets your time-sensitive freight to its destination by the end of the following business day.
- Second-day air: Second-day air is a good balance of speed and cost, and the freight will arrive by the second business day.
- Deferred air: This is the most economical shipping option and is optimal for lower priority cargo that can wait to ship until there is space on an aircraft
How are air freight rates calculated?
What you’re shipping, the carrier and airline you use, and the shipment’s chargeable weight affect the rate. The chargeable weight is the gross weight (including the freight, packaging, and pallet) or the volumetric weight — whichever is greater. Volumetric weight is calculated using a formula that divides the cargo’s measurements (LxWxH) by a dimensional weight factor. Typically, larger items that weigh less take up more space than small, heavy items, which is why air cargo carriers use the chargeable weight formula.
Other factors that can impact the cost?
- Fuel surcharges
- Container freight station fees
- Airport security costs
- Airline handling charges
- Customs clearance fees
- Associated trucking costs
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