Air Freight or Sea Freight?

19 июля 2021, 15:56

Knowing the ideal mode of transportation for your goods and company can go a long way. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between air freight and ocean freight:


It goes without saying that air freight is much faster than sea freight. If you are willing to pay a higher price for faster shipping, air freight would be the more appropriate option. However, you should always still compare all transit times and not automatically assume air freight is the better option.


You must first understand how carriers charge to make the best decision. Airlines bill you based on chargeable weight, which is determined by combining the shipment’s weight and size. On the other hand, sea carriers charge per container rates for shipping in standard containers. While they may charge based on weight, their charges are typically based on the size of a shipment, which means ocean freight is much cheaper for heavier shipments. As the size of a shipment decreases, the price differential narrows, making air freight less expensive.

Shippers must also be aware of destination charges. Whether you ship by air or sea, there will be customs and destination fees. While the actual shipping cost of sea freight is usually less than that of air freight, warehousing fees at seaports are many times higher than those at airports.


While flights can get delayed by weather conditions and other unforeseen events, airlines tend to be very on top of their schedules, making air freight much more reliable than ocean freight. Airlines also fly between major cities all over the world on a daily basis, meaning missing a flight does not significantly delay a cargo shipment, but ocean lines have weekly schedules. Thus, if you miss the cutoff at a seaport, it would likely result in a much longer delay.

Stock on hand

Depending on the availability of stock, you may be able to use sea freight. But if no stock is available and the situation is urgent, air freight may be a better choice. These options are situational, and you will frequently need to make a decision on a case-by-case basis.

Load Capacity

One advantage of ocean shipping is that it allows you to ship heavy and bulky cargo much more easily than air freight. Air cargo is typically used to transport unitized cargo, but if your goods become too big, you may need to consider freighters, charters, or part-charter solutions. These options can have a significant impact on costs.

Environmental Impact

To many customers, environmental policies are important. If you place importance on having a green brand or want to target an environmentally conscious market, you should consider which of the two shipping methods is more eco-friendly.

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