Skip to main content

If you’re shipping goods internationally and your timescales are tight then air freight is the obvious solution. It takes a fraction of the time it takes to ship goods by sea and can be an efficient way to transport smaller quantities and lighter goods. There are a number of misconceptions about air freight, with many exporters who might improve their turnaround times believing that it’s not for them.

What is air freight, how does it work, and what are the advantages of using it to get your goods to their final destination?

What is air freight?

Air freight is the fastest way to ship goods internationally, via a chartered or scheduled air carrier. It transports goods efficiently to anywhere in the world with an airport, often reducing the number of stages in the shipping process.

Goods that are transported by air are taken at high speed to their final destination, which can give air freight the advantage when timescales are limited. Because of the high security associated with modern air travel, the carriage of goods via air is incredibly secure – perfect if you’re sending high value goods.

Air freight can be an intelligent option for smaller and medium sized companies who want to guarantee a quick delivery for smaller quantities of goods. Although many companies dismiss air freight as being an unrealistic or not cost-effective option, it can be practical when shipping smaller goods with a higher relative value.

If you’re looking to get goods to their destination as quickly as possible and cost isn’t a factor, then air freight will nearly always be the obvious choice.

What is the process if I want to ship goods via air?

There are a few different options when it comes to shipping goods via air:n

    • Consolidated Freight – A single flight will contain a number of different shipments.
    • Direct or Back to Back Services – A flight that contains a single shipment.
    • Charter Services – An entire freight plane that’s chartered for a single air freight.

For most businesses, consolidated freight will be the most cost-effective and practical option. Arranging air freight is not always a straightforward process, and in most cases will be arranged by an experienced freight forwarding company, who will have an extensive network of contacts and partner companies to ensure your goods are shipped in the most time and cost-effective manner. They will be able to negotiate a competitive price with an air company to fly your goods to their final destination.

After commissioning a freight forwarding company to handle the air freight process, you will then agree a time to collect the goods either from your company or your supplier. Goods can either be packed prior to collection, known as Ready For Travel (RFT), or the freight forwarding company will professionally pack them for you.

The goods will then be taken to the airport for customs clearance at the point of origin. Goods will then be loaded onto the plane. With a consolidated shipment this may take a few days as a number of different shipments will need to arrive at the airport and clear customs ready to be shipped together on a single flight.

Once they arrive at their destination country the goods will once again have to pass through customs. Your goods will not usually be released for delivery to their final destination until all the necessary duties and taxes have been paid in full. The goods will then be delivered safely to your final destination as agreed with your freight forwarding company.

On arrival in the UK, the goods have to pass customs again and will only be released when all duty and taxes are paid. The goods are then delivered to you as per your agreement with the freight forwarding agency.

As well as the physical logistics of the shipping process your freight forwarding company will also take care of all the necessary paperwork and documentation. This can be a time-consuming and complicated process with plenty of potential for error. Any problems with the paperwork can result in delays.

What are the advantages of air shipping?

Airfreight isn’t going to be a realistic option for many exporters and importers, but it does have a range of advantages.

    • Speed – Air freight is quick. If you’re using a direct service, it can be incredibly so, with goods crossing the globe within hours. In most cases, you can expect air shipments to arrive in a few days. This compares to several weeks for sea shipping. It’s important to remember, however, that with speed comes extra cost. With that in mind, air freight tends to be most suitable for lighter or smaller items with a higher value.
    • Charged by weight not by volume – A shipment containing a large number of small, light items may prove to be highly cost-effective as well as fast due to the way charges are calculated.
    • A range of options – Air shipping companies may be able to offer a range of different shipping routes and shipping options as outlined above.
    • Safety of goods – Although both sea and air shipping now offer high levels of protection for your goods, damage is generally less likely via air shipping. Airfreight is tracked in a similar way to passengers meaning security is very tight. Your goods are extremely unlikely to be stolen or otherwise interfered with.

Your experienced air shipping partner

SSO Logistics is highly experienced in arranging safe and efficient shipping of goods via air freight. As one of the UK’s leading freight forwarding services, SSO Logistics can help you through the air freight process, negotiating safe, cost-effective and fast transit of your goods to their final destination.

To find out more about our services contact us today.

Leave a Reply