Air freight; What does it entail?

Freight shipping by air via an air carrier, which may be charter or commercial, to anywhere where planes can fly and land. 

The logistics of air freight are, to a large extent, comparable to that of other freight transportation methods. Goods are transported in containers, you have to deal with “free time” plus associated costs, the logistics of getting the containers to and from the correct airport terminal, and related documentation.

Advantages of air freight

The two significant advantages of air freight transport are speed and reliability. It will usually take no more than 24 hours from the arrival of cargo at the airport to the arrival at its destination. That is much faster than an ocean journey from Central China to the Netherlands, which takes about 26 to 31 days. 

When transportation takes no more than 24 hours, while flying past any possible supply chain disruptions, little can go wrong—making air transport a reliable way to ship time-sensitive and high-value cargo.

However, there is a more significant cost associated with high-speed shipping. You often pay about 400% to 700% more per pound for air freight than for ocean freight. Frequently, the short-term or emergency schedules that a freight forwarder or logistics company typically works with, play a role in airline shipping costs. Therefore, many companies will mainly use aviation as part of a multimode solution, such as an emergency order, where part of the cargo is sent by air, and the rest of the load is followed by land or sea.

Types of Air freight goods

The various types of cargo transportation by air can be divided into two main groups: General Cargo and Special Cargo.

General cargo are items such as; consumer goods, dry goods, retail, textile, hardware, and other everyday products, excluding mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. This type of cargo needs no extra precautions or special handling during air transport.

Special cargo are items meeting specific requirements because of their weight, dimensions, nature, and value, such as; live animals, perishable cargo, wet cargo, time and temperature-sensitive products, and dangerous goods such as gasses and flammable liquids. This particular cargo needs extra precautions, guidelines, and special handling, managed and ensured by three Boards: the Dangerous Goods Board (DGB), Time and Temperature Working Group (TTWG), and the Live Animals and Perishables Board (LAPB)

Stages of the shipping process by air

When you ship goods by air, there are a few stages of the shipping process;

  • Check restrictions (not all cargo is equal)
  • Make bookings and arrange shipment
  • Prepare freight for export by packing it according to the conditions
  • Calculate the gross weight and shipping costs
  • Deliver freight, have it tracked, and collect freight

Air-shipping involves many rules, laws, and documents, including marking and labeling with correct processing codes, license numbers, packaging that guarantees the goods’ integrity, handling, storage, etc.

Specific steps and regulations apply to the air shipment process for each particular cargo. The rules for each step of the process must be consistent with the shipper’s and carrier’s responsibilities.

Get in touch

For successful air freight solutions, it’s helpful to use the freight forwarders’ services, knowledge, and experience of a specialized company such as CSI, which coordinates the entire shipping process from A to Z.

Contact us

+31 (0)85 4894740



Having been in the industry for nearly three decades, we are equipped with the network and resources to ensure your cargo reaches its destination safely and on time.


From collecting the cargo to delivering it, our flexible fees suit our clients’ needs.


We take conventional cargo shipping to the next level by offering our clients complete support—from customs documentation to clearance, commercial invoicing, and export licenses—we assist our clients throughout the process.