24 Jan 2020

Air Freight vs. Ocean Shipping: Which is Right for Your Cargo?

B4 Air Freight vs. Ocean Shipping

As a provider of freight forwarding services, you likely need to decide every time how to transport a customer’s shipment, especially when it comes to international shipping. That decision becomes challenging when tight deadlines and global shipping requirements clash. In this case, the two most obvious choices are air freight and ocean shipping. Being the two most popular modes of transport, both air freight and ocean freight has some advantages to consider. Choosing the right way for your cargo requires thorough analysis, and you should consider the following vital factors.

  • Cost: Though it may seem that ocean shipping is cheaper than air freight, it may not always be accurate. To make the best choice, you need to know how carriers charge international shipping. Air freight is charged based on the weight and gets calculated, taking into account the size and weight of the consignment. Whereas in the case of International Ocean Freight Shipping is charged based on the size of the container being used. A full-size container is available at a flat rate. When the consignments are large and heavy, ocean shipping is more appealing, but as shipment sizes become smaller, the difference between air and ocean shipment cost also reduces. Besides the actual transport cost, warehousing charges along with customs and destination charges should also be taken into account.


  • Speed: When speed is the topmost priority due to tight deadlines and short shelf life, availing Air Freight Shipping Services provide a definite advantage as it takes only a day or two. Also, there is no congestion in the sky or at the airport. Shipping via ocean may take days, weeks, or sometimes even a couple of months because of slow steaming to conserve fuel and reduce CO2 emission, and ships stop at ports for loading and unloading purposes. However, due to advancements in technology, ships are getting faster as canals have come up with shorter shipping routes.


  • Reliability: When it is a question of credibility, air freight always wins the race. If a flight is canceled, it gets rescheduled within a day or two, whereas in the case of ships, it may take a week or longer. Ships may go off schedule due to ocean storms, CO2 emissions, pirate attacks, and complexities of ocean alliances. For some businesses, a gap of one or two days doesn’t matter, whereas for some it does, for example, the ones dealing with perishable items. Moreover, often there are multiple flights if it is a significant destination. However, one can expect reliability from ocean shipping due to the ongoing alliance between various ocean carriers.


  • Capacity: As megaships have come up, there is more cargo space in ships now compared to airplanes. For this reason, in many circumstances, ocean shipping scores over air freight. There is usually more space left than what the cargo requires reducing the freight prices. On the contrary, there is less space in airplanes pushing up the prices. However, if the consignment is large, air freight is more expensive.

In a nutshell

If money is not a constraint for you, and safety and on-time delivery matters the most, then air freight is the best choice. However, if you want to save money and are concerned about the environment, ocean shipping will be the ideal mode of transport.


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