Answering Your FAQs About the Air Freight Industry

The air freight industry is a vital component of the global supply chain and integral to the millions of businesses and individuals that utilise these services. Air freight services help enable the transportation of huge quantities of goods around the world, every single day. There are a variety of industries, businesses, buyers and sellers that are able to facilitate fast, reliable and flexible air freight transportation of their cargo.

If you are a business or individual looking to take advantage of air freight services, you probably have a lot of questions about how it works, what you need to do and if it is the right choice for your transportation needs. From the types and amounts of cargo to the documentation and regulation associated with air freight transportation; there is a lot to know about the air freight industry.

Let us try to answer your FAQs about the air freight industry and get you ready to make the best use of the incredible services this industry offers:

  1. What is air freight?
    Air freight is, simply put, the transportation of cargo by air. Aeroplanes and other cargo aircraft are used to ship a variety of goods across long distances, international borders and the ocean. Air freight transportation is celebrated for its dependability and global reach. The businesses and individuals which utilise air freight services are, typically, transporting cargo that is high value, time sensitive or has specific shipping and handling requirements.
  1. What makes air freight different to the other modes of transportation?
    Besides the basic function of transporting goods from one location to another, there are a variety of differences between air freight and other popular modes of transportation, such as ocean, road or rail freight. Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, making it uniquely-suited to time-sensitive freight cargo. It also has the advantage of being able to reach, almost, any location on the planet. Air freight can be more expensive than other modes of transportation and can have some size or weight restrictions associated with the aircraft being used. However, these also include multiple specialised and secured shipping options that can keep high-value, temperature-dependent, time-sensitive and unique cargo safe and secure during transportation.
  1. How are air freight costs calculated?
    As with any mode of transportation, the costs will depend on several factors relating to the cargo itself. Details, such as the type, size, weight, volume, origin and destination of the goods, as well as the type of freight aircraft, will impact the cost of the air freight services. In addition, special handling requirements, customs clearance costs and additional taxes can play in a role in what you will spend.
  1. How are air freight shipments regulated and cleared by customs?
    Every nation has its own rules and regulations associated with the international transportation of goods. Customs and regulatory agencies in the destination country, as well as South Africa’s requirements, will determine what standards your cargo must meet, including documentation, declaration and labelling of goods. International Organisations, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), have helped keep the global supply chain safe and secure.
  1. What can you send via air freight?
    A simple, but important, question relating to air freight is what you are able or allowed to send via cargo planes. You can ship most types of cargo by air freight, however there are some restrictions based on type and quantity of goods being shipped. Dangerous or restricted items may include, ammunition, explosives, chemicals, fuel, dry ice and most hazardous substances. To better understand how to transport these types of goods or large cargo quantities, talk to a freight forwarding partner and determine what mode of transportation is best suited to your needs.
  1. Are there any challenges associated with using air freight services?
    There are some challenges associated with all freight transportation options. Air, ocean, road and rail freight all face some unavoidable limitations and challenges; no mode of transportation is perfect. Air freight, for example, is subject to some higher costs, additional regulation and limitations on certain cargo types and amounts. However, it is important to remember that each freight option provides unique benefits and opportunities that could make it the right choice.
  1. What are the biggest benefits of choosing air freight?
    As mentioned, there are many benefits associated with air freight transportation. The leading benefits of choosing air freight are the reliability, speed, flexibility and global reach it offers. Air freight can improve delivery times, secure sensitive or high-value goods, transport various cargo and ship them all over the world. This allows businesses to reduce inventory costs, minimise transportation times, reach anywhere and adapt to an ever-evolving global supply chain. The air freight industry plays a critical role in the global supply chain, international trade and business growth. You can do more with air freight today than ever before; easily transporting goods across the globe with confidence that your cargo will arrive on time, in good condition and at the right destination. Hopefully, you are now able to make more informed decisions about how your goods are transported and if air freight makes the most sense for your needs.


One of the best ways to ensure that you are choosing the right mode of transportation for your goods is to consider partnering with an experienced and capable freight forwarder. M6T have established ourselves as a trusted freight forwarding and logistics partner for South Africans and their businesses over many years. Our sophisticated global network helps us provide world-class freight forwarding services for our clients, including expert Air Freight Forwarding.

Contact M6T at our Johannesburg or Durban branch today and find out how we can help you find the best air freight services for you or your business.