Insights & News

What Is Air Freight Shipping & How You Can Expand Your Business

plane in the sky above buildings

Posted On March 5, 2024

Air freight accounts for 35% of the world’s trade, with over $6 trillion worth of cargo transported annually. 

Shipping by air provides multiple advantages for SMBs and large organizations for international and domestic shipments, and it’s vital for time-sensitive cargo.

Let’s dive into more details.


What Is Air Freight Shipping?

Air freight, or air cargo, is shipping goods via air carriers, flying out in the same gateways as passenger or commercial airlines.

Shipping by air takes your load anywhere a plane can fly! Once at the airline terminal, air freight is prepared, checked, and loaded into the aircraft.

Businesses can choose among different air transportation options offered by airlines.


How Can Air Freight Shipping Expand Your Business?

Today, in the fast-paced and interconnected world economy, logistics is a key area for business success. Among the different transportation modes, air freight can truly drive product value.


Advantages Of Air Freight Shipping

There are various benefits when shipping freight by air.


Air freight shipping is usually the fastest way to transport cargo, especially over long distances. Deliveries can be as fast as same-day! 

So, expedited and time-sensitive shipments are delivered on time around the world, enabling smaller businesses to expand internationally.


When shipping by air, your cargo is sure to arrive on time – weather being the only occasion for delays.

Lower costs

There are various opportunities to achieve lower shipping rates when choosing air freight transportation.

For example, air transport typically comes cheaper for small-sized items. Faster delivery equals less warehousing time. Plus, you typically want to use lightweight packaging for air transport, saving up on packing material.


Just like for passengers, air cargo goes through strict security checks and airport controls.

This means extra safety and less handling for your load, significantly reducing the risks of theft or damage. It’s an optimal option for valuable goods.

In international air shipping, every country imposes additional checks and controls for customs clearance.

In Europe, for instance, the latest import control system (ICS2) demands that freight check is declared before take-off and landing.


Today, many air carriers provide proactive real-time freight tracking, which helps you track your shipment from departure to arrival.

Alternatively, intelligent TMS platforms offer end-to-end visibility for international shipments.

Business Growth

With fast, flexible, and cost-effective air freight services, businesses can target new market opportunities and scale for growth.

What Are The Different Options Of Shipping Air Freight?

Air freight forwarders have four primary options to move cargo, depending on the logistics details of every shipment.

Next Flight Out

Next flight out is extensively used for next-day or even same-day deliveries.

Today, it’s popular for e-commerce brands that compete on speed for customer satisfaction. More importantly, it is a vital service for medical parts, such as organs or implants.

To quickly ship items with next flight out when delivery deadlines are critical or when downtimes come at a high cost, businesses proactively partner with international logistics providers.

3PLs have the means to book air cargo space instantly and quickly pass TSA (Transporation Security Administration) clearances for international deliveries.


In consolidated air freight shipping, your cargo is grouped into one container with other shippers’ cargo.

Here, freight space and costs are shared, making it a relatively low-cost option to transport air cargo internationally or cross-country. 

Freight consolidation is a preferred air transport method for large forwarders, but it demands precise scheduling and optimal planning.

Once the consolidated goods arrive at their destination, they are deconsolidated into their original LCL (less-than-container) shipments.

Benefits of consolidated air freight shipping include:

  • Transportation cost scaling
  • Efficient resource utilization
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Streamlined customs clearance

Deferred Air Shipping

This is probably the cheapest air freight shipping option. But, it comes with longer transit times.

As the name suggests, various shipments are purposely delayed in order to best consolidate them as a single shipment.

Transit times typically take one or two weeks, but delivery times can vary depending on the cargo, staffing, and air carrier availability.

This air freight option is used for less valuable, non-perishable, or non-time-critical goods.

Air Charter

Shippers choosing air carter shipping enjoy exclusive air freight trucking services. In many cases, renting an entire aircraft is the most efficient (or the only) way to transport your load via air.

Benefits Of Air Cargo Charter

  • Exclusive capacity
  • Tailor-made air freight services
  • Fast transport for odd-sized cargo
  • Efficient delivery to remote locations
  • Flexible departure times
  • Increased air freight security

Split charter is a more affordable option when cargo does not make a full plane load.

How Are Air Freight Rates Calculated?

When it comes to air freight shipping, rates are calculated based on a number of factors:

  • Shipment size
  • Chargeable weight, i.e., weight of your goods, including packaging.
  • Type of goods, like sensitive, hazardous, perishable, or high value.
  • Geopolitical implications, such as weather, strikes, pandemics, etc.
  • Insurance type
  • Country-specific import/export taxes and duties are also crucial to defining the end air freight price in international shipping.

Today’s interconnected technology offers specialized applications that provide businesses with end-to-end visibility and comprehensive data reports.

By streamlining your air freight transportation strategy and partnering with dynamic air freight forwarders, you can maximize delivery efficiency and lower your freight shipping costs.

How Does Air Freight Work?

The air freight shipping procedure is relatively simple – as long as an experienced air freight forwarder arranges air transit details.

In short, a carrier picks up your items at your warehouse or storage facility. The carrier loads the freight and transports it to the airport, where teams load it onto a plane after passing all compliance and security checks.

Managing Air Freight With An Air Freight Forwarder

As an IATA-licensed air freight forwarder, FlatWorld Global Solutions scales your logistics operations.

Knowledge and experience take our customers’ domestic and international shipments from point A to point B efficiently and cost-effectively.

From packaging to customs to delivery, we offer a wide range of air freight forwarding services designed to meet your needs. Get started today.