What is Airfreight?

There are several differences between shipping cargo with an Air freight company and Ocean Freight company. As you may know, the main difference is the mode of transportation that is used to move product from the origin point to the final destination.

Shipping companies use containers to stuff freight along the way through their routing from origin to destination. The containers can be from direct customers, freight forwarders, and freight brokerages or logistics companies within their network.

Air carriers use a group of local trucks to pick up and deliver the freight, but utilize a network of airlines (both commercial and cargo) to do the bulk of the freights movement. By comparing the basic transportation difference, you can probably also determine the next main difference in shipping companies against Air Freight companies that would be transit time.




Air carriers can also offer something the shipping carriers cannot, which is next day or next few-day- services from any origin point within the region or any worldwide destination point. Due to the way shipping carriers network their equipment, it would be very difficult for shipping lines to provide next day or next few days services for shipments moving over 5000 Km. Also, air carriers can provide guaranteed delivery dates for next day and 2nd day shipments. This is a very good service that fits a customer’s need to get product to the final destination quickly and on time. This type of service does introduce us to the third main difference in ocean freight against air freight and that is price.

Air lines will provide very quick transit times and can easily guarantee delivery dates, but in comparison to the cost of shipping a product, shipping via air freight can be very expensive. This type of service is not something a customer will use on a regular basis but can be very helpful in a time of need.

The other difference between ocean freight and air freight is how a customer’s price is calculated. Shipping lines take into account the origin and destination and the products total volume 20’DC or 40’DC…and freight class. Air freight calculates rates based on the origin airport code, destination airport code, and the products total weight and dimensions. Freight class is not used to calculate air freight. Air freight rate shipments based on a per KG rate, and based on the greater of either the shipments actual weight or the dimensional weight.

To calculate a products dimensional weight, you will multiply the shipments length, width and height (in centimeter) and then divide the total by 6000. You then would compare that number against the shipments actual weight. The greater amount of the two is what you would use to calculate the total cost.

Dimensional weight example: A customer has a shipment that weighs;

  1. 250kg and is 120cm length, 120cm width, 60cm height. To find out which is greater, the dimensional weight or the actual weight, you would use this equation – (120cm x 120cm x 60cm)/6000 = 144kg
  2. 100kg and is 100cm length, 120cm width, 80cm height. To find out which is greater, the dimensional weight or the actual weight, you should use this  equation – (100cm x 120cm x 80cm)/6000 = 160kg

In example (1), the product’s dimensional weight is smaller than the products actual weight. In example (2), the product’s dimensional weight is greater than the actual weight.

The thing that Air carriers have in common is the fact that they are renting out space on the aircraft they are moving the product with. If a product has a dimensional weight that is greater than the actual weight, the carrier must charge you base on dimensional weight.