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Different types of airfreight

Airfreight is transporting freight by charter or a commercial air carrier, speedily and reliably. The solution when a customer has a time-sensitive project or has freight that needs to go to an unusual destination is sending the freight by aircraft. Airfreight also has a worldwide reach, high level of security, less risk of theft or damage, is easy to track, has a reliable schedule with dependable arrival and departure times (only affected by harsh weather). They usually import the freight through the freight forwarders of a logistics company. 

3 types of air freight 

Commercial aircraft freight – the commercial airlines mostly transport passengers their luggage, however, there is space left over which can be used to ship goods, such as clothing or other products.

Cargo-only freight – the types of freight that are shipped by a cargo-only aircraft are: temperature-controlled goods (e.g. food and medicine), dangerous goods, heavy weight goods, live animals, and high valued items.

Heavyweight/odd-sized cargo – the odd size items are transported by a heavy transport aircraft, items such as helicopters, trucks, and military transportation means.

What to consider when using air freight?

Airfreight depends on a lot of things such as the size of the freight (length, width), weight of the freight, the destination of the freight, which charter will be available, what kind of runway is there at the destination (length and weight that it can take), and customs clearance.

To give you an idea of the freight that is transported by air: the smallest being a battery, up to a complete truck with trailer, all depending on where you are going, which charters will be available, the urgency, and the price you will pay.

Types of shipping

Express shipping – this is the fastest and most expensive way to ship cargo, for example, for overnight delivery, mostly used for time-sensitive projects.

Standard shipping – this is the most commonly used shipping service. The shipment is not a one-stop shipment, it might stop at one or two airports, where goods might transfer to another aircraft, or goods get off-loaded and/or loaded.

Deferred shipping – this shipping method is for shipments that do not have a top priority, so the goods wait until space becomes available on the aircraft. It is cost-saving as it has a longer transit time and, most likely, multiple stops.

Charter shipping – if there is a larger amount of goods and the shipment is urgent, charter shipping is the choice. Though this is a quick way of shipping, it is also more expensive. 

Types of cargo aircrafts

Commercial aircraft have a very strict schedule and leave little room when you are in a hurry. Because of the people, they are also transporting cargo space that is limited in size and weight. They have limited destinations, as most commercial aircraft go to larger cities of the world. 

A cargo-only aircraft, also known as a freight aircraft, freighter, airlift, or cargo jet, is a fixed high wing aircraft to allow the cargo area to be lower to the ground. This aircraft carries cargo rather than passengers. These types of aircraft incorporate nothing passenger-related. These planes have large doors for loading the cargo. Often they have more wheels, which allows them to land at unprepared locations. They can lift the nose of the plane to load large items onto and off the aircraft. 

Heavy transport aircraft – the Russian Antonov made for large and heavy freight. This type of aircraft is rarely in use. We charter them when the freight is extraordinary and dimensions. They normally use this aircraft for military purposes, such as transporting their equipment and their means of transport. 

Maximum capacity

Aircraft are limited to the size of their fuselage, especially commercial aircraft is limited. Commercial aircraft also transport passengers and their luggage which does not leave much room for cargo. 

Commercial aircraft →25000 kilo, 283 m3
Freight planes (Boeing 747) → 123000 kilo, 736 m3

What if your goods have an odd size and weigh a lot? Then you need to look at other options, commercial planes are limited to their space but are cheaper as they are already scheduled to fly to a certain location. Besides commercial aircraft, cargo aircraft are used often, as they are built to only transport goods. If your goods do not fit a cargo-only aircraft you might need a heavy transport aircraft. 

Domestic vs international air freight 

Shipping/transporting your goods is the same, however, there are some differences between importing or exporting. As when you fly domestically, you are not importing or exporting. Internationally, you import or export, so there will be more documentation to clear your items with customs. 

Airfreight vs. air cargo

In air shipping, two terms come across which they use interchangeably, air freight and air cargo. However, according to the business dictionary. Airfreight is carriage paid for goods transported by aircraft, air cargo is goods transported by aircraft. 

Global trade

Airfreight plays a minor role in the global trade, 52 million metric tons of goods of trade a year, which represents 35% of the global trade, but its value is less than 1% of world trade volume. Air cargo plays a big role in, for example, COVID, as medical equipment is in need with top priority. But also the vaccines that needed to be distributed at a high speed. Besides that, air cargo is the solution for time-sensitive materials such as medicine and food.  

What role does Lubbers play in air freight?

Lubbers has an extensive global network of trusted freight forwarding partners, besides that Lubbers is an IATA cargo agent (International Air Transport Association). Let us take care of your freight with our end-to-end services. Our experts have a hands-on and flexible approach, which allows them to offer an optimal solution tailored to your needs. We help you reach every mile of the transport you need. Get a quote now.

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