Air freight is very much the premium end of the cargo business. It is used mainly for urgent and high-value items. Manufacturers use it for receiving ‘just in time’ components, and for distributing new products in high demand at their launch.

There are restrictions on the weight and size of the goods that can be carried – and there is a longer list of prohibited items. Packaging is of special importance: and pricing is mostly weight-based.

Air freight tracking is as sophisticated as passenger control, and clients can see where their shipment is at a given time.

The air freight market is currently depressed due to high fuel costs, improving surface transport and other market changes, and prices are keener than usual due to supplier competition. Freight forwarders can achieve good consolidated shipment rates.

pkgPackaging your Items

Air freight companies know that most items they carry are urgent, high-value, time-sensitive or perishable, and as such they need particular attention when being packed. Some issues are –

Perishables must be packed to travel for (at least) 24 hours without spoilage: styrofoam boxes need to be overwrapped.

Anything longer or wider than 213 cm needs special packing to avoid flexing – test when picked up to ensure it does not sag. Protect long ends the most, where handling will occur.

Consult with your air freight service as to what is the recommended maximum weight for each size of corrugated fibreboard box (always use a double-skinned type). Wooden crates are preferred to fibreboard.

Fill any voids in boxes with ‘dunnage’ (surplus paper, board, packing material) or loose fill cushioning to avoid the load moving and getting damaged.

For extra protection from pilferage, use measures that may include cargo bags to enclose your shipments, one-time strapping seals, opaque stretch wrap and/or tamper-evident tape.