Have you received your covid-19 vaccination jap? Was it Pfizer, Moderner, AstraZeneca, or perhaps Johnson &Johnson? Whatever you have been vaccinated with, be grateful for airfreight. 

Journeys that took months to arrive are now accomplished in hours by airplanes. With such orientation, it did not take much time to register its significance in passengers’ movement and cargo transport. Unfortunately, despite its swift transport capability connecting people and cargo in minutes and hours, its astronomical transport charge component has retired it from a possible dominance in cargo transport. For this reason, air freight is most dominant in transporting high-value and time-sensitive goods. 

Notwithstanding its little or no dominance in global trade volume, 1% percent, air freight is responsible for 53% of the value of world trade. It catalyzes national economic growth when positioned in a safe, cost-effective, sustainable, and efficient air freight industry. Yet, maintaining such a vibrant industry requires strategic planning concerning airport infrastructure, support services, supply chain visibility, improved service levels, and mapping of key freight routes.

Air freight lags far behind sea freight in terms of global cargo consumption transported. However, air freight is responsible for the most significant cargo movements in the world. An average aircraft can haul at least 20 tons of cargo per flight, which estimates up to 5,000 discrete packages. Airfreight helps deliver fragile or perishable goods that are not bulky and have short lead times. With a Shortcoming of high transport costs and possible flight delays and cancellations, air freight thrives on the advantage of faster delivery time, usually between 24 & 48 hours, mitigating or eliminating customer waiting and reducing transit lead time for a supplier shipper or seller. 

The air freight cargo delivery system comprises two types; passenger network and cargo network. Regarding the passenger network, passengers are carried in an aircraft’s cabin while cargo lodges in the extra space not needed for baggage or postal in the aircraft belly. The cargo network takes charge of cargo only. The cargo network is scheduled for the convenience of shippers. To keep the air freight industry functioning, some actors worked tirelessly to ensure cargo flow. Talk of the airline carrier, freight forwarders, the warehouse for consolidation, airport ground handlers, airport, terminal handlers, among others. Before cargo gets on board an airplane, it is unitized by specialized containers called Unit Load Devices (ULDs). This is a simple pallet or container used to hold freight (cargo), luggage, or mail on either wide-body aircraft or specific narrow ones. The ULDs have an individual tracking number to aid easy identification. Unit Load Device is of different sizes and types. They can be small or large comparatively for dry or refrigerated cargo. 

For standard passenger flights, the height of a Unit Load Device is constrained to a maximum height of 163cm. In the case of a cargo plane, the height of Unit Load Devices is allowed at 318cm. In handling hundreds of thousands of cargoes, security measures become a priority to ensure the safety of both handlers and cargo. Ensuring security involves extensive screening (through physical examination, dog sniffing, scanning, etc.), marking, labeling, and packaging, among others. Regarding safety, not all cargoes are permitted to be shipped in a regular air cargo network. Local loads such as flammable gases, corrosive substances, and gas cylinders possess a high-level security menace to the cargo on board and the aircraft. 

Imagine you given cargo to an airline carrier to transport from points A-B. At point B, the carrier tells the consignee no cargo was delivered. What will be your evidence to prove that the airline received shipment or evidence of a contract to transport cargo between two geographical points? For this reason, there is an essential transport document called ‘Air waybill,’ which is issued by the carrier to the shipper to serve as evidence of receipt for cargo shipment and the contract of carriage. Upon proving identity by the consignee to the carrier, the carrier surrenders the cargo to the consignee (the recipient of the shipped merchandise). Shipping instruction, cargo manifest, commercial invoice, packing list, special declaration for Dangerous Goods (DG), and perishable items are other shipping/transport documents.

It’s imperative between a buyer and exporter to incorporate International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) in their sales contract. It helps to curb the questions of; who arrange or pay for transport? Who will bear the cost of damage during shipping? Who is responsible for procuring insurance (if needed)? The latest episode of the incoterm is the 2020 version. The incoterms 2020 rules explain a set of eleven of the most commonly-used three-letter trade terms, for example, Deliver Duty Unpaid (DDU), Free On Board, Cost Insurance, and Freight (CIF), among others demonstrating business-to-business practice in contracts for the sale and purchase of goods.

For decades, air freight has continued to be the emergency response mode of transport, saving many lives, organizations, and customers’ businesses. But apart from the speed of service that ensures place and time utility or its upsurge transport charge, is there something about airfreight that tickles you?

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