What is Air Freight?

We throw around the term “air freight” all the time. As a transportation company, air freight is the backbone of our operations. But what exactly is air freight and how does it work? Further, why does it matter?

The answer is simple, though it might not work exactly how you think. As most would guess, air freight is cargo that moves on an airplane. But, digging a little deeper reveals some interesting information. Surprisingly, much of international air freight flies in the belly of passenger flights rather than on dedicated cargo freighters. Belly capacity refers to the storage space in the underside, or belly, of a passenger aircraft. So, if you’ve ever flown on a commercial flight, it’s more than likely that your luggage was accompanied by air cargo of some kind.

Additionally, many people fail to consider the fact that practically all air freight is still transported by a truck at some point. Unless you have an airstrip in your back yard, last-mile delivery will need to take place by means of a truck/van.

What kind of goods are shipped as air freight and why? 

Virtually any consumer product can be transported by means of air travel. Oftentimes, merchandise such as technology, pharmaceutical goods, and expedited orders are shipped as air freight. There are many reasons why a company may choose to ship goods as air freight. However, the overarching reasons can be condensed to two: expedited needs and international supply chain. 

world map

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

As far as the United States are concerned, ocean and air are the only means for importing and exporting international freight (excluding Canada and South America, which can be reached via roadways.) While ocean cargo has its purpose, it moves much slower than air freight. And, when there is a sense of urgency, air freight is the go-to option. Expedited orders, therefore, account for a notable amount of air freight shipments.

In summary, air freight is merely freight that moves on an airplane, be it a cargo freighter or passenger flight. Just about anything can be air freight, such as electronics and clothing. Most often, goods are shipped as air freight for either international transportation or speedy delivery. Air freight plays a huge role in the modern supply chain and impacts our daily lives, even when we don’t realize it!


Share Post