The vast majority of goods transferred overseas by aircraft will not actually be sent on a specialised air carrier. It will, instead be carried in the hold of a passenger aircraft. Many airlines will use this as a method of making a little bit of extra money on their routes.
The restrictions on what can be carried on passenger aircraft is very strict, however. After all, there will be other passenger’s baggage there. This means that, in many cases, a person may be waiting around a longer amount of time for their goods to be loaded onto the aircraft and sent out. The most flown routes in the world tend to have dedicated cargo flights operating on a regular basis. If your goods are being sent to a major hub, they will most likely be loaded onto one of these planes.
Goods will only be sent airport to airport. This will be the extent of the contract. After that, the goods will need to take another method to get to their final destination. The cargo will often be processed by a freight forwarder. It will then be taken to the cargo terminal at the airport and prepared for departure. It is the job of the cargo operators to ensure that these goods are loaded onto the correct aircraft and stay safe at all times.
If your goods are going to be sent via passenger plane, there may be some restrictions. Passenger planes need to have their weight and fuel consumption carefully planned well in advance. They can, from time to time, allow goods to be shipped last minute on these planes. However, there may be an issue from time to time which puts the aircraft over its weight limit. In those cases, the goods will need to be offloaded and will need to wait for the next available flight.
As you can probably guess, air transportation is one of the most expensive methods for moving goods internationally. It is, however, one of the cheapest and more cost-effective methods for sending goods overseas, particularly when you are sending smaller shipments.
The cost of your airfreight will be charged by either the volume of the box or the weight of the box. This means that even if your box is really light, you will pay a little bit extra for it if it is taking up a fairly large amount of space on the aircraft.
There may be additional freight costs which need to be covered too. If you are exporting goods, you will need to pay for the goods to be handled at the airport terminal. You may also need to pay fuel fees. In addition to this, you will need to fill out forms for customs, pay for security screening, and you will need to pay for insurance on top of all of this. In some cases, particularly if you are receiving goods via air freight, you may also need to pay VAT on that you are receiving.
Airfreight logistics, particularly when you are shipping a decent amount of goods, are not easy to understand. In fact, it can be quite complex. This is why many companies will use a freight forwarder to handle their shipments. It reduces the amount of hassle associated with airfreight logistics hugely. It can, in some cases, also help a company to save a small amount of money.
If you are shipping small to medium size packages, you may want to look into a consolidation services. Many freight forwarders will buy space on an aircraft in bulk. They get this incredibly cheaply. Companies will then be able to purchase this space from the freight forwarder. The goods will leave at an incredibly specific time and will go to a particular airport. This method is normally used when the goods are OK going to a popular airport. It is very rare that a consolidation service will be used to ship goods to smaller airports.
If you are going to use a freight forwarder, and it is suggested that you do, it is important that you make sure that they meet the following requirements:
- Are they going to be fine using multiple transport methods to get your goods from point A to point B? It is unlikely that your goods will be collected by the recipient from the airport. They will need to be passed on over to rail or road travel. You need to know that your freight forwarder is fine with coordinating this.
- Is the freight forwarder a member of a freight forwarding body? If they are, this is a plus. It means that they conform to very specific requirements. This often means that they have insurance in place which ensures that you are covered should your goods not arrive safely.
- Do they have experience shipping your particular type of goods?
- Do they have experience shipping to the country where your goods need to land?
If you are not shipping huge amounts of goods, you will probably just wish to use a courier service. These will collect the goods from your place of business and deliver directly to the customer. There will be no fees to pay beyond the service cost that you have opted for. The only fee you will have to pay will be duties and taxes in the receiving company, should the customer not wish to cover them. Generally speaking, if your package weighs less than 30kg then this is the best way to go. If you are using a freight forwarding service then that is going to be fine for goods over 30kg, although some couriers may offer that option.
You should always use airfreight if you are shipping goods which can perish. After all, road transport, rail transport, and boat transport are notoriously slow. You do not want the goods to perish before they arrive, right? After all, that will completely ruin your goods and you will not be able to make any money on it!
Those who are shipping goods overseas by aircraft will need to have a variety of different pieces of documentation to hand. Below, we are going to take a little look at some of the most important pieces of airfreight documentation to have.
This is going to, essentially, be your document of carriage. It is the contract between the company exporting the goods and the airline. It is your receipt so you are going to need to keep it to hand. The air waybill will include details of the goods shipped, the weight, and the terms and conditions of your contract. If you need to make a claim under your airfreight insurance, this will be one of the key documents that you need to hand.
Air waybills may include information about the flight, the sender and the receiver. It is not going to be a document which highlights the title of the goods. It is more as evidence that the goods have actually been shipped and that they are on their way to their final destination.
Certificate of Origin
Some goods, if you are importing at least, will require a certificate of origin. This will say where the goods come from. It is used to conform to various laws. If you are importing goods, your freight forwarder will help you to determine whether you need to have a certificate of origin in place or not.
In some cases, you may require a license to export and import certain goods. It is absolutely vital that you check the relevant laws in your country and the country that you are sending the goods to in order to find out whether this is something which applies to you.
Export cargo shipping instruction
This is a small piece of paperwork which is only going to be required if you are using either a freight forwarder or carrier. It will not be used if it is you sending the goods direct (i.e. booking the flight etc.). This information is, for all intents and purposes, going to be the contract that you have between the freight forwarder and you. This contract will highlight the agreement of the goods to get to a particular destination and how it is going to get there. Once this document has been signed, the freight forwarder will need to conform to their side of the contract and ensure that the cargo arrives wherever it needs to do so in a timely manner.
This contract will be between the buyer and the seller. It will cover who is responsible for the costs of moving the goods. This is an especially important document if you are shipping overseas because you need to show that somebody has agreed to pay the import tax on the other end (this does not apply if your goods do not leave Europe). If this is not agreed in advance, the buyer will automatically need to cover all import tax.
Airlines and other freight companies will likely have the minimal amount of insurance cover in place. This means that unless you purchase additional insurance before shipping your goods, it is unlikely that you will be fully covered. This is the only way in which you are going to be able to get the full cost of your consignment covered in the event of damage or loss.
It is worth noting that it is unlikely that consequential loss will be as standard. Therefore, if goods need to arrive at a particular destination on time, you need to have consequential loss insurance. Find out from your insurance provider how you can go about this.
Airfreight insurance will be purchased via the freight forwarder. Remember, if you are using a freight forwarder, your contract will be with them and not the airline. This means that if you need to make a claim, you will need to make it through the freight forwarder who will in turn claim any losses back from the airline. The Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom has started that all freight forwarders need to provide some sort of brokerage service for insurance. This means that you should be able to find a deal through them with very little effort.
Remember, however, you should always try and shop around for insurance, particularly if you are sending vast quantities of goods. Whilst it may be incredibly convenient to obtain your insurance through your freight forwarder, it may not be the cheapest option. You are a captive audience for them, after all. As a result, shopping around will quite often net you a far better deal. It will also allow you to choose the exact type of coverage you wish for on your insurance policy, which may save you a little bit of money whilst at the same time offering the maximum amount of coverage possible for your goods.
It is important that you understand what the claim process is before you ship the goods. All insurance companies operate in a slightly different way. You will want to know what to do in the rare event that something does go wrong. After all, it is likely that you will have a huge amount of money tied up in those goods and thus need to know that you are going to get back this cost quickly and easily.
Your contract with the carrier will be based around the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions. These conventions highlight what the responsibility of the carrier is, the limit of their liability, both on a financial level and whether they are actually liable or not, as well as any documents that are required. You should be supplied with these conventions when the air waybill is issued. If not, you will be able to find plenty of details online about these conventions. If you are planning on shipping overseas on a regular basis, you will do well to familiarise yourself with them. You never know when you may need to rely on them!