When is air freight your best option and how does it work? Usually, freight under 500 lbs is less expensive to ship via air than ocean. Air freight, even though the service itself might be more costly, could save you money over ocean freight if minimum handling charges are considered in your overall cost.
Air freight shipments are handled by one of the following methods:
- On Passenger airlines
- On dedicated cargo planes
- On Super cargo planes
Commercial airlines make about 5 to 10 percent of their revenue by hauling freight. Most freight is stored in special containers that are designed to fit inside the cargo hold while some of the freight is put on pallets.
Cargo planes are specificaly designed with electric rollers to move the freight into the hold of the airplane, capable of handling larger quantities than will fit on commercial airlines.
Super cargo planes can handle extremely large pieces of freight with the entire end of the plane opening up to allow loading. These tranports are called Airbuses. There is also the Antonov AN-225 which is the largest freight airplane capable of carrying up to 250 tons.
The process followed for shipping air will be one of the following, a company that specializes in small packages or an air freight forwarder capable of handling anything.
Small freight package handlers include DHL, FEDEX, or other such companies that are set up to handle freight up to 100 lbs. Some may take freight at a higher weight but you will pay more than using an air freight forwarder capable of handling any size shipment. You need simply to fill out your airway bill details, prepare a commercial invoice and packing list for each shipment. When you make arrangements for the carrier to pickup the package you will also want to make sure they are filing the Shippers Export Declaration on your behalf. You will also need to make sure the appropriate Inco terms are on the airway bill so they can deliver accordingly. Once pickup is made you will be given a tracking number so you can alert your customer on when to expect delivery.
Freight shipments over 100 lbs. are generally booked with an air freight forwarder. Once your shipment is ready you will contact the forwarder with the weight, dimensions,final destination, etc. so they can make a determination on which type of plane they will use to book your consignment. Inland freight arrangements can be made by yourself or the freight forwarder to the appropriate address. You will need to provide the air freight forwarder with a commercial invoice, packing list and a shipper’s letter of instruction detailing the information they will need to execute your shipment. Once your consignment has been loaded on an airplane for shipment the freight forwarder will provide you with a copy of the airway bill detailing the estimated time of arrival, carrier name, flight number etc. These documents should be forwarded to your customer via email or fax with another set sent via courier if originals are required by your customer for customs clearance.