Air cargo shipments constitute one third of the shipping activity carried out worldwide, reaching a total value of approximately 4.7 trillion pounds on an annual basis. Quite logically, the main explanation behind this fact lies in air transportation being the fastest shipping solution available, thus enabling a quick reaction to inventory stock-outs and increased demand. In this context, let us take a closer look at ten key factors importers should consider when opting for air cargo shipping solutions.
1. Transit time
One of the main advantages air shipping provides lies in the very short transit times, which can be cut down to 1-2 days in the case of priority shipments and 5-6 days in that of economy ones. Of course, these time spans do not include the preliminary quoting, the import or export customs clearance of the inland delivery times.
Typically, the documentation required to obtain customs clearance includes master and airway bills of lading, a commercial invoice and also a packing list. However, it should be noted that some types of merchandise may require the provision of additional documentation in the form of textile paperwork or aquatics certificates, for example.
3. Air shipping rates
Air shipping rates are calculated based on the cargo weight, which can be measured in kilograms or dimensionally (i.e. based on the space requirements). Whichever value is larger will determine the final air shipping rates. In the context of a dynamic market, it should be noted that these rates will usually change within a few days.
4. Inland shipping
Should the port of destination and that of arrival differ, an immediate transportation entry number may have to be filed at the initial port of arrival in order for the in-bond shipping of goods to a port of destination to be cleared and the transporter or holder of the goods being shipped must be bonded.
5. Commodity restrictions
Furthermore, it should be noted that commodity restrictions may apply in air freight. Therefore, it is recommended that the licenced customs broker be contacted prior to the initiation of any air shipping operation.
6. Customs entry procedures
Cargoes to be shipped via air travel can be cleared by the licenced customs broker as soon as they have been sent to the initial airport. This procedure is also known as "the wheels up procedure".
7. Warehouse fees
Prior to their delivery, air shipments are to be stored in warehouses. Therefore, warehouse and handling fees will be charged before the goods are picked up by truckers.
8. Bond compliance
As far as the bond compliance of air shipments is concerned, it should be noted that such shipments cannot be imported if associated with discontinuous bonds or multiple entries.
9. Compulsory paperwork
Export air shipments with a total value higher than 2500 dollars and commodities that require export licences must be accompanied by AES documentation. However, at present, import air shipments do not have to be accompanied by ISF documentation, as is required with import ocean shipments.
10. Cargo insurance
Finally, it is extremely important that air shipments be insured against any potential damage, theft, fire, natural disasters or mishandling in advance for financial protection purposes.