Air Cargo and Freight Logistic

Air Cargo and Freight Logistics: An Overview of the Global Industry


Air cargo refers to goods or products that are transported via aircraft. While air travel for passengers has been common for many decades, the organized air transportation of cargo is a relatively recent development. Air Cargo And Freight Logistics
started gaining traction after World War 2 as improvements in aviation technology made larger cargo aircraft feasible. Some key events that helped spur the growth of air cargo include the introduction of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet in the 1970s, which had a large cargo capacity, and containerization standards that allowed intermodal transfers between ships, trucks and aircraft efficiently.

Types of Air Cargo And Freight Logistics

There are a few main types of aircraft that are used for air cargo transportation:

– Passenger Aircraft Bellies: Many passenger planes have dedicated cargo compartments in their bellies that are used to transport packages, mail and lighter goods along with passengers. This extra cargo capacity helps airlines maximize revenue on each flight.

– Freighters: Dedicated cargo planes called freighters are designed specifically for air cargo without any passenger seating. Examples include the Boeing 747 and 777 Freighters. Freighters can carry much higher payloads than passenger aircraft.

– Conversions: Some retired passenger aircraft are converted into freighters by removing seats and installing side cargo doors. This extends the useful life of the aircraft for dedicated cargo operations.

– Charters: Cargo charters involve using ad-hoc payload-limited passenger aircraft or freighters for one-off heavy cargo shipments that need larger aircraft.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Efficient logistics and supply chain management are vital for air cargo operations. Key aspects involved include shipment booking, documentation, warehousing, loading/unloading of cargo, customs clearance and final delivery. Cargo may undergo intermodal transfers between planes, trucks and seaports.

Time-definite services are important for perishables, electronics and other high priority shipments. Systems track shipments in real-time. Air Cargo And Freight Logistics
is consolidated at busy origins through freight forwarders and flown on multiple flight segments to reach destinations rapidly across long distances internationally.

Warehousing hubs at major airports facilitate temporary storage, sorting and customs processes for goods in transit. Cargo terminals use complex handling equipment and IT systems for rapid processing of shipments. Security screening also adds to transit time and complexity.

Top Air Trade Routes

A few key global air trade corridors account for the largest cargo volumes. Asia to North America is the busiest route with exports from China, Hong Kong and other Asian nations to North American markets. Intra-Asia routes connecting manufacturing centers to consumer markets are also growing rapidly. Europe to North America carries a high volume of passenger goods and other valuable shipments.

Major Commodity Groups

Electronics including computers, smart devices and parts are a leading air cargo category due to high value and time-sensitivity. Pharmaceuticals and medical equipment have tight transit requirements and are commonly air shipped. Perishable foods such as seafood, flowers, fruits and vegetables rely heavily on rapid aircraft transport over long distances. Other common air cargo includes mail, air express parcels, and automobile/aerospace components.

E-commerce is driving more shipments of smaller high-value parcels. New freighter aircraft designs are focussed on lower fuel use and emissions. Cargo-passenger aircraft combinations may expand to underserved thin routes. Multi-modal first/last mile solutions combining trucks and drones will likely be tested. Overall, air cargo will continue playing a vital role in global trade given the inherent speed advantages over maritime shipping.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it