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When it comes to international shipping, air transportation can offer a number of advantages to your supply chain. It offers exporters and importers a shorter transit time on their cargo shipments. Time spent at customs clearance is also often shorter for air shipments. Insurance costs can be lower, as the risk of damage or loss of goods during a flight is lower than that of an ocean freight ship.

Also, the international air shipping process allows shippers to move high-value cargo by air efficiently and safely. The security of your goods is higher on an airplane. While not all shipments need to be shipped by air, it is a premium alternative to ocean freight when time or value of goods is an issue.

Air Freight Process

When you ship goods via air, prepare your shipment for export by packing it, calculating the gross weight and shipping expenses, compiling a packing list, and arranging a shipment with your air freight forwarder of choice. You will also need to prepare your air waybill, which is used in place of a bill of lading when exporting goods via air.

Your goods will also have to be transported to the relevant intermodal point to reach the air shipping warehouse. From there, your shipment will be processed through customs, then loaded onto the transport vessel.

Air Freight Costs

Air freight is a lot more expensive than other shipping methods. On average is about 4 to 5 times more expensive than road shipping and 12 to 16 times more expensive than shipping via ocean freight. Additionally, the cost of the actual delivery is more expensive, and import duty and taxes are calculated as a percentage according to the total cost of goods and shipping.

However, importers and exporters who need to move high-value goods or make time-sensitive shipments may see the added delivery costs as a necessary step in order for them to continue doing business.

Shipping goods via air freight is usually priced by gross or volumetric weight, whichever is higher. Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the shipment’s 3 dimensions, length, height, and width in inches, and dividing the result by 166.

Air Freight Timelines

The travel time for goods being transported via air freight is much lower than ocean shipping. In air shipment crossing the Pacific will take around 3-5 days, while an ocean shipment can take closer to 3 weeks. Not only is the transportation time less, but customs clearance can also be quicker, often starting the process the same day and taking only a couple of days to finish.

For time sensitive shipments, or shipments that contain perishable goods, air freight shipping can make such a supply chain function, and the price difference becomes well worth it.

The Takeaway

Shipping cargo by air may be necessary for some shippers, especially those dealing with perishable goods, foods, or expensive items. Shipping cargo via air can be a lot more expensive than ocean or land shipping but also occurs much faster.

Air travel is highly monitored and secure, making air freight a good option for those looking for added security for their items. To learn more about shipping processes, costs, and timelines, call one of our agents as Asiana USA today at (855)-500-1808.

Jeff is a media producer and content creator based out of Los Angeles, CA. He has an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing. He works in media production, collaborating with brands such as Nike, Disney, HBO & Netflix. Jeff also works with exhibitors and venues to organize logistics, shipping, and delivery. In his free time, Jeff Smith enjoys reading and writing about technology, entrepreneurship, wellness, logistics and travel.
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