Air Cargo : Organisation Is The Key


Fast, efficient and expensive are the three terms that qualify the phrase air cargo. The last word is the first one that comes to mind, but delays in a business can cause loss of revenue and loss of business. Meticulous organisation will save time, money, energy and efforts.

Timing : A Vital Factor In Air Cargo

Take into account manufacturing delay. How much time will be required to produce the ordered goods, or how long would you have to wait for getting the goods delivered by your vendor. Consider possible delays such as holidays.


air cargo




Always remember the using wood in packaging (and that involves dunnage) will mean more points to be checked. The wood should be IPPC certified, the logo has to be visible on the outside.

Cartons should be strong enough to withstand handling procedures. Contents should be packaged in such a way as to avoid wobbling. Any movement of the content means there is s risk of damage..

Packages loaded atop pallets should be within the inner area of the pallet. Overhang (cartons occupying an area bigger than the carrier pallet) is a potential risk (damage due to freight adjustments). Overhang also causes increase in volume (freight occupies more room).

If pallets are used for carrying the package, the former should have a strip of wood on which the chocks (the “feet”) of the pallet rest. This will help to distribute the weight of the consignment equally (floor load tolerance limit)

If  you think that the consignment might suffer damage , when weight is loaded on top, attach a label NO TOP LOAD or NOT STACKABLE to on the top side of the package.


Air cargo warehouses and freight forwarders handle innumerable consignments in a day. Human beings are prone to error and measures to prevent mistakes being made is a pertinent point. Shipper and consignee details are to attached, as far as possible, to the same side of the freight.

Special handling labels  such as FRAGILE, DO NOT THROW, DO NOT DROP are to be attached to more than one side.


Dangerous goods : Double check the Shipper’s Declaration for typing errors! Similarly check the packages: UN Number, technical name, quantity etc.

Have you checked with your consignee on the documents he needs for clearing the consignment through customs?

Do you have all the required documents? Have you checked the number of copies (at least 3 copies each of invoices and packing lists)

Clear electronic copies of all your documents on hand?

Air cargo being a fast mode transport, the documents are to be transferred to the consignee/freight forwarder using email or FTP.


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Contact Details

Email addresses, telephone numbers (alternate telephone numbers), fax numbers, mobile numbers are to be collected and listed

Contact details to be mentioned on your SLI (Shipper’s Letter of Instructions).

Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarder to be advised preferable one day in advance

Time window  to be provided. Freight forwarders need  enough time to pick up the consignment (delays can occur due to various reasons)

Keep the information line open!  Communication is vital to air cargo.


Inform the consignee of

the flight details

the pick up, when done

the documents handed over to the freight forwarder


Your freight forwarder may have questions that come up due to customs inspection. Be available to avoid any delay. Only you can answer the questions that are about the contents of the package.

Track and Trace

Almost all the air freight consignments can be tracked via the internet. Every major airline has a tracking possibility made available on their websites.  Ask your freight forwarder to inform you. A simple search in a search engine using the words ” <name of airline> cargo track and trace” will give you the link. Air cargo without a track and trace possibility is unthinkable in today’s freight forwarding world

Resources Centre

Please get in touch using the contact form below. However, your freight forwarder remains the most important point of contact for you


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References to Air Cargo


Cargo aircraft – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cargo aircraft (also known as freight aircraft, freighter, airlifter, or cargo jet) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is designed or converted for the carriage of air cargo, …

Boeing: Boeing Freighters

Boeing airplanes perform every role in the air cargo market, offering the most … The airplane upholds its predecessor’s legendary efficiency, with nearly …

Airbus freighter aircraft, cargo aircraft | Airbus, a leading aircraft …

Airbus builds highly capable freighters to fulfill a full range of cargo lift requirements. The A330-200F is the only new-generation cargo aircraft available today …

Cargo Aircraft in Freight Forwarding

Cargo Aircraft

Air Cargo companies fly their cargo on various aircraft. Even passenger aircraft is used to transport consignments. Freighter planes are made to carry only freight both on the lower and the main deck.

On passenger aeroplanes freight goes into the forward and aft compartments and in the hold, which is right at the back. Doors are provided on the sides with varying amount of clearance, depending on the type of aircraft, Some of the planes have lower door clearances, while some are high enough to take in a maximum of 160 cm in height.

Freighters have  a bigger capacity but limitations as well. MD 11 freighter has a general limitation on height of the consignment. The permissible height in this case on main deck is 244 cm. Boeing 747 (various versions) have a main deck hight clearance of 295 cm. However, the width and the height, too, matters. Although there are many different types of freighter planes, some of them have become famous: Antonov, Ilyushin 76, Boeing 747 (jumbo), MD 11, C17 (military)

An-124 ready” by DtomOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 cargo aircraft

Beluga n3” by Duch.sebOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

cargo aircraft

C17.globemaster.arp“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Boeing 747 freighter planes have a possibility for nose loads, where the nose is opened to allow freight to be loaded into the compartment below the cockpit. The general hight clearance is 249 cm ( obviously in relation to height and width, as well)

Very heavy loads are usually placed towards the centre of the aircraft and this type of loading goes by the name of centre load. Some of the airlines do not accept centre loads.

The freighter floors have embedded rollers to help slide the freight into position. Hook locking facilities are provided along the floor to secure the freight.

Some of the freighters (Antonov) have winches built-in to help lift or lower freight, which is a bilge help to move and position heavy loads in the cabin.

Certain dangerous goods are restricted to freighters. such goods are classified as CAO (Cargo Aircraft Only). Special rules are in place that determine where and how dangerous goods are to be positioned inside the plane.


cargo aircraft  Courtesy : FLYTOBARCELONA

In the above photo you can have a closer look of the inside of a freighter






Courtesy : Air Charter Service








References for air cargo and freighter planes

Air cargo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Air Cargo is any property carried or to be carried in an aircraft. Air cargo comprises air freight, air express and airmail. Contents. [hide]. 1 Aircraft types; 2 History.

Cargo airline – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cargo airlines (or airfreight carriers, and derivatives of these names) are airlines dedicated to the transport of cargo by air. Some cargo airlines are divisions or …

Alaska Air Cargo Home | Alaska Airlines

Book your next Shipment with Alaska Airlines Cargo. We makes it easy to ship to any of our 80+ destinations in North America with online booking.

Air Freight – To Consolidate or not?

International Air Freight Consultant


Almost every importer has faced the situation, mentioned in the title, and many took a decision without thinking much about the term consolidation and/or how it functions.

Economy moves fast and every company needs to keep pace with its high-speed. As technology grows, so do the demands. Especially in the field of manufacturing, the supply of goods, be it machinery or machinery parts, be it packaging parts or tools for production, everything must be available within the shortest possible time.

Understanding Air Freight Price

Many companies do not even have a warehousing system, because goods in the warehouse  are considered dead capital. These companies wish their orders to be delivered “just in time” (that is how the process is called) ,directly to the production line. This way of  managing the figures may have its positive sides. However, there are innumerable factors that cannot be ascertained in advance. Unforeseeable points are the hidden risk here and they can really hurt.

Moving goods across the continents by sea is cheap. However, the strongest argument against this mode of transportation is the time taken.Ecologically speaking sea freight is a better solution. However, many companies cannot afford to wait that long to get their orders. Economy and Ecology become conflicting factors.

The air freight price is not a merely the question of weight . The volume of the consignment will be taken into consideration. The customer is paying for the amount of room the freight takes.  If the volume is greater than the total weight, the former will be used to calculate the air freight price. Cubic meter is the unit used in calculating volumes and the way to determine this is to multiply the  length, width and the height of the goods  (meters). The result is then multiplied by 166.6666 (it is better not to round off the figure) .

Example: if your consignment of 75 Kg  measures 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.80 meters, the volume = 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.768 cubic meters.  0.768 x 166.666=  127.99. As per the IATA (International Air Transport Association) rules, the figure will be rounded up to the next 500 gm, resulting in 128. This is the volume weight of your consignment. Between the gross weight and the volume weight, the higher figure will be used for calculating the air freight price. Assuming the consignment had a total gross weight of 130 Kg, the price will be based on 130 Kg.

Understanding Direct Consignments

A direct consignment is one that is addressed directly to the consignee and the air freight agent (freight forwarder) forwarding the goods is not involved directly with the consignee. The company from which you bought your product becomes the consignor (also called shipper) and you are mentioned on the air way bill as the consignee.The freight is tendered to the airline, immediately after the final export customs clearance is through.  The air way bill which accompanies the consignment is called an IATA air way bill. The freight forwarder is the authorised identity entrusted with flying the cargo.  He will  tender the consignment to the airline after the final export customs clearance and his task ends there. The consignee has to find a broker to interact with the airline to get the freight cleared.

Understanding Consolidation

Consignments going to the same destination but from various shippers are booked under one master air way bill and each Shipper is provided with  a house air way bill. The freight forwarder can negotiate a better air freight rate, which will give each shipper or the consignee the opportunity go enjoy a better and cheaper price in comparison to direct consignments. The cost of the air freight is distributed over several consignments, which results in keeping the rate down.  Consolidations are usually booked to leave on the weekends. Depending on the amount of business, a freight forwarder will set up bookings for the middle of the week.


The master air way bill is almost always addressed to a freight forwarder at the airport of destination. It is his job to split the consolidated cargo into its individual units. This deconsolidation is carried out in a bonded warehouse at the airport of  arrival. Here again the handling charges at the airport is distributed over a large number of freight, thus effectively reducing individual prices. The  deconsolidation takes a bit of time and is not suitable for emergency freight.

Consolidate Or Not

Considering the above facts, one can say, if your consignment is not very urgent, a consolidation is advisable. It will save you a lot of money. However, please note, not every forwarder may fly a consolidation to the particular airport a customer has in mind.



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