Air Freight imports and exports to and from South Africa

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Air Freight Imports and Exports.

Air Freight. Like the times that we live in. It is fast. It is exciting. It is expensive. More expensive than sea freight. It is for high value, low volume cargo.

Air Freight is made for deadlines.

Air freight is the transportation of cargo by aeroplane. Transporting cargo by sea is usually the first transport mode of choice, as sea freight is usually much more economical. Especially for larger consignments.

Air freight comes into its own when cargo has to be imported under the “JIT System” (Just in time), when the cargo is of a high value or small enough to make the air freight costing on a par with the sea freight costing. While there are no hard-and-fast rules these consignments are normally under 100kg (by weight).

There are 3 different ways of air freight imports and exports.

In a passenger aeroplane:

This is where the aeroplane carries cargo in the unused space left over in it’s hold after the passengers’ luggage has been loaded. It must be noted here however, that hazardous cargo, whether packed correctly for air freight or not, is normally not allowed to be carried on a passenger aircraft. Transporting cargo by passenger aircraft however also carries a higher risk of the cargo being “bumped” or left behind for a day or three. In other words, there are more passengers and their luggage than originally anticipated. So the cargo is left behind to await the next flight. The aviation rule is: passengers first. Then live animals. Then human remains. Then cargo. The airlines are also of the belief that passengers are more profitable than cargo!

In a cargo aeroplane:

This type of aeroplane has an empty hold instead of seats, no flight crew members to serve drinks and snacks and only a pilot and co-pilot on board. The entire aircraft is designed to carry cargo. The cargo is loaded either through the nose or from the side. A cargo aeroplane is also more likely to carry hazardous cargo, as long as it is packed, in accordance with the regulations, by a reputable, licensed packaging company and is accompanied by the correctly issued hazardous certificates.

In a combi aeroplane:

This is where the aircraft is configured to carry both passengers as well as airfreight. It’s a bit like a ‘double-cab’ with passengers in the front and goods at the back. In a ‘combi’ configured aircraft cargo is carried on its main deck, behind the passenger area.

Air freight through the ages:

The first cargo flight took place on the 7th November 1910 in the USA, between Dayton and Columbus. This airplane carried a parcel of silk, weighing 200 pounds for the opening of a new shop. It was the first cargo only flight. And it was the first time that a client had given instructions for cargo to be transported as air freight, rather than road or rail at that time.

It was also the first example of multimodal air transport, as the cargo had to be collected by road from the “Shipper”, taken to the departure airport and transported from the destination airport to the shop (‘Consignee’) in Columbus.

Previously this type of transport would have been carried out by road. But it was really only in the 1920’s that air freight really took off (pardon the pun) as clients realized that aeroplanes could transport high value, low volume cargo’s much faster and efficiently than ships or trucks.

Unlike passengers, air cargo does not simply walk off the aeroplane. In an ideal situation it has been pre-cleared through Customs prior to its arrival, so that once it is off-loaded into the airline’s warehouse, it can be collected by the haulier and delivered to the client.

Unfortunately should the air cargo not have been pre-cleared, storage accrues quickly and expensively as the airlines only allow 1.5 days of storage for free.

Air freight operates very much on a time-is-money principle. 

How Freightwell can help you with your air freight needs:

If you have any questions concerning air freight imports or air freight exports, whether on a small or large consignment basis. Please feel free to contact us.

We are only too pleased to hear from you!

Remember: We speak the lingo, so you don’t have to!