Air freight is the transportation of goods via aeroplane. It is the most glamorised and time efficient form of freight, but it is also the most expensive (in most cases). The air carrier of the goods may be charter of commercial, which is an advantage as some loads can travel from passenger aviation gateways which means they can fly and land in more places. An air charter is the business of renting an entire aircraft as opposed to individual aircraft seats in which a ticket would have to be purchased through a traditional airline. The loads are usually containerised, and is usually the most reliable form of freight.
The cost of air freight is usually more expensive than ocean freight, and on average, a medium size 2000lbs box from China to the US can cost $4,000, whereas via ocean (from and to the same place) would be $1,200. However, many choose air as their mode of freight as the timescale is far less. What might take a month to ship, could take around a week to fly. An Air Way Bill (AWB) is issued by a carrier either directly, or through its authorised agent, and is the most important document during an air freight procedure. An AWB is a non-negotiable transport document, and covers transport of cargo from airport to airport. If the shipment is accepted, an IATA cargo agent acts on behalf of the carrier whose AWB is issued.
When dealing with air cargo, it is important to only transport loads that are suitable. Due to the different air pressure and temperature in the sky, it can sometimes make the conditions unsuitable for certain types of goods, such as temperature controlled, perishables, some foods, and high-pressure packed goods. If the aforementioned goods are flown without great care, they can perish, become damaged or even explode.
Rachel Jefferies, Editor, Freight Media