Air Freight or Ocean Freight? What should you choose?

For centuries, millions have used ocean freight and sea routes to discover lands, import spice or export goods. And then came the airlines. People thought that the popularity of ocean shipping would decline due to swifter and reliable services of air freight. However, that’s not the case. Ocean freight still holds a whopping 1/3rd of total global transportation. Still, air freight has its own benefits and advantages. For instance, air freight forwarder allows for faster transport of goods, ensures that perishable goods reach different parts of the world on time. At the same time, it ensures high reliability. But should you choose air or ocean for freight forwarding? Well, you should take the decision only after considering following factors.

What are the goods you seek to transport?

If you are planning to ship vehicles, air freight is sadly not an option for you. Air freight cannot take as many vehicles as a shipping container. So, it would be more expensive and would hardly yield good results. In such a case, ocean shipping would be a more reliable, less risky option. But if it’s perishable goods or smaller items that need to be delivered, trust air freight!

How much money are you willing to pay?

Cost-effectiveness is the key to selecting right kind of freight forwarding services. Now, if you compare the rates between sea and air freight forwarder, it is obvious that shipping by air is a costlier option. However, this doesn’t mean that air freight isn’t a good option.

Usually airlines charge according to the weight and size of the shipment whereas sea carriers consider per container rates for standard containers, which is based on the shipment’s size. The price for containerised sea freight vary depending on whether your goods needs a full container or it can be adjusted with other cargo. In case of the latter, the volume of the cargo determines the price for shipment.

Therefore, for heavier products, shipping by sea is a cheaper option. However, with smaller shipments, the margin between the prices is less, which makes shipping by air a less expensive option. Plus, air freight companies offer variety of discounts to regular clients.

How fast do you need your goods to be transported?  

If speed is a matter of concern, shipping by air is the fastest way to ship your product. For several organizations, shipping time is crucial. Therefore, if the consignment is urgent and requires faster transportation, go for air freight forwarders. Also the delay in airfreight services are less as compared to sea freight, since airfreights run on daily basis between major cities globally whereas sea freights tend to run on weekly schedules, with several stoppages.

How much do you care about environmental factors?

If you are concerned about carbon emissions and environmental impact, sea freight can be a good option. Usually, ships are friendlier for the environment. But it doesn’t mean that air freights pollute the environment. The use of latest technologies have made air freight eco-friendly and ensures reduced carbon emissions.

After completing MA in Marketing from London School of Economics in late 90's, Ellina James chose to work for Marketing Research firms in Europe only.

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