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When is Air Freight the Right Choice?

In 1903, on a cold and windy December day the Wright brothers changed the world with a single 12-second flight. Considering how much work had gone into building an aircraft that could achieve the basics of controlled flight, it is safe to say that cargo space wasn’t a top priority. However the airplane captured the imagination of the world, and it took just a decade for these new flying machines to demonstrate their capabilities as movers of air freight. Incidentally, a bolt of silk fabric shipped by a department store from Dayton to Columbus, OH, beat out the express railroad to become the first credited practical demonstration of air freight cargo in the United States. 

Experienced shippers are keenly aware of their options when it comes to moving their goods -- particularly in terms of cost. They also understand that ocean freight transport has many advantages over air freight due to economies of scale that translate to lower costs. It is the fundamental reason ocean carriers move so much cargo. However, shippers whose business model requires faster transit times in getting goods to market may rely on air freight to meet the demands of ‘just-in-time’ delivery. So, let’s consider the two options and help decide whether air freight meets your shipping needs. Air freight Air Charter

Real Advantages

  • Faster transit times.The average air cargo delivery door to door estimate is 5-7 days, depending on customs clearance. Compare this to the average ocean transit time of 25+ days. Faster transit times mean goods reach their intended market quicker and shippers realize the cash flow benefits sooner. Your capital is tied up for less time with the shorter air transit time than for the longer ocean transit and time to market.
  • Reliable service. Airlines are able to utilize the large global network of airport facilities. This infrastructure advantage along with the practice of one airline accepting another’s air waybills means shipments to most destinations can be done on the same air waybill.
  • Minimal inventory. Shippers who choose air freight tend to maintain smaller inventories of their goods. This conscious decision translates to less need for maintaining large inventory and the expense of local warehousing.
  • Other benefits. There are secondary benefits such as lower insurance premiums for air freight cargo.
  • Cost savings. Potential savings may be found in the packaging required for air shipments. Shorter transit times along with the required specialized handling for loading and unloading aircraft may require less expensive methods of packaging your goods compared to ocean.


Is Air Freight the Right Choice?

This is a question best answered by you, the shipper; however, there are some cost benchmarks that can help. Air freight is a more expensive option. The cost of air freight can be several times that of trucking and 12-16 times the cost of ocean. Consider the advantages of working with a forwarder like Vantec Hitachi Transport who provides a dedicated air consolidation or air charter service. Regular, scheduled service into a strategic geographic area can translate to a substantial reduction in your air freight cost.

The advantages mentioned above can be fully realized if your commodity is considered high-value or time sensitive; for example new-to-market smart phones or fashion apparel. Perishable cargo of all types such as seafood, fresh flowers and other agricultural products are often best shipped via air. If your production methods rely on just-in-time delivery utilizing air freight might be the right choice. Small volume shipments of things like pharmaceuticals, certain printed materials or production samples rely on air freight as well.

Should you decide to move your cargo via air freight, there are some things you can do to improve efficiency and reduce cost:

  • Remember to pack perishable cargo properly to minimize loss and clearly identify your commodity as such.
  • Use caution in packaging. For example, dry ice is classified as a dangerous substance and cannot be used in air freight packaging. Wet ice is also prohibited. Some airlines recommend gel-packs so know your regulations.
  • Make sure your paperwork is completed accurately and filed properly to ensure smooth handling through customs.
  • Make the most out of airline infrastructure advantages; routing through major airport hubs can help lower your air freight rates.
  • Remember that air freight is charged by weight utilizing a three-dimensional formula. Maximum- sized dimensions can vary by airline, so engage your logistics professional to help minimize costs.

If you would like to know more about our air freight solutions contact us.

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