Advantages and disadvantages of air freight – simply explained.
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Advantages and disadvantages of air freight – simply explained.

Air freight has advantages and disadvantages. For some goods, transportation via airplane is indispensable. For other goods, however, alternative transport solutions can be found. One thing is certain: air freight plays a major role in freight transport today, and more and more freight capacity is in demand. Since the 1960s, air freight has become increasingly important and is now a steadily growing market. It was only through the further development of aircraft models and technical innovations that the transport route became interesting for the shipment of time-critical and quickly available goods.

According to forecasts, the share of air freight is expected to grow by 4.2% annually worldwide until 2038. In 2018, a record year, around 61.3 million tons were handled via cargo transport. More than 2,000 cargo aircraft are in operation worldwide for this purpose. But airfreight is also used for ancillary cargo in passenger aircraft. By 2039, the number of cargo aircraft is expected to rise to 3,300. When considering how goods can reach their desired destination most cost-effectively, quickly and safely, it is worth taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of air freight.

What is air freight and what are the advantages and disadvantages of air freight?

If you decide to transport goods by air, goods and merchandise are transported by air in special cargo planes or on loading areas in passenger planes to the desired destination worldwide. Air transport is one of the fastest and most reliable means of transportation and has long since become the first choice for goods that are time-critical or cost-intensive. Despite comparatively higher transport costs, air freight has some convincing advantages worth mentioning.

Advantages and disadvantages of air freight: The benefits

Fast, reliable and flexible – air freight offers a significant advantage, especially for goods that need to be transported quickly to another location. While a cargo ship needs around 30 days or more to reach Asia, an airplane covers the same distance within a few days. In addition, air freight convinces with the advantage of security, reliability and punctuality.

For which goods does air freight offer advantages?

  • Emergency goods such as spare parts or relief supplies in the event of disasters
  • medicines and medical products
  • perishable goods with limited shelf life such as food, plants and flowers
  • Cargo with special requirements such as live animals
  • seasonal goods that quickly lose value
  • products that are high in value and price such as technical equipment, works of art or precious jewelry
  • important documents

Despite the higher prices, which are based on various factors in the air freight cost calculation, these are usually secondary in the case of the above-mentioned goods, because in many cases the benefit of use and performance will put the transport costs into perspective. Costs for storage space, among other things, are thus reduced. In addition, air freight offers the unique advantage of being able to reach even the most remote location in the world and covers a worldwide network of routes.

The advantage of air freight was recognized early on by Steve Jobs, who bought all available air freight capacity on the route between Asia and the USA in order to deliver the first iMac on time for Christmas.

Advantages and disadvantages of air freight: The disadvantages.

Like all transportation methods, air freight has its advantages and disadvantages, and so the shipping method is not the first choice for every good. Above all, the high costs are a disadvantage of air freight. Size and weight determine the price. In addition, there are other factors such as fuel consumption, handling costs, door-to-door pickup and delivery, and insurance. This means that heavy, large and high-volume goods, as well as low-priced goods, and all other goods that do not have to be shipped quickly, are usually better off by sea or land. Also to be considered with air freight is that the high pollutant emissions are among the disadvantages. In addition, transport from the airport and delivery to the exact destination must be organized using other means of transport. Basically, goods that are classified with a potential danger are excluded from air freight.

For which goods does air freight show disadvantages?

  • Goods that are not time-critical
  • goods that pose a potential danger
  • heavy, large and high volume goods without urgency
  • low-priced products

How to use air freight advantages despite some disadvantages?

At ECL, we focus on multimodal transportation, giving you the opportunity to take advantage of air freight when the mode of transportation alone would have disadvantages for you. Our own truck fleet and an extensive network ensure that we can combine your air freight transports and the associated downstream operations such as customs clearance processes, warehousing and truck transports in a cost- and performance-efficient manner, guaranteeing you speed, security and reliability.

Feel free to contact us. We will advise you comprehensively on your options for fast freight transport and make you an individual and non-binding offer. In this way, you can take advantage of all the benefits and avoid the disadvantages of air freight.

ECL Kontor is an international logistics company established in 2004 with roots in customs clearance and transport organisation.

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