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Ocean Freight verse Air Freight
November 18, 2012

Ocean Freight verse Air Freight

Which is best for your shipment?

When shipping internationally there are a lot of things that need to be considered. First of which is Ocean Freight or Air Freight. In some cases it is not a choice if you have a short window to get the product to the customer then Air Freight is your best option but in other cases when you have time to decide then you need to weigh your options. Like many other choices in business choosing between Ocean Freight or Air Freight can be an integral part of your logistics plan the one you make could impact your costs and future business.

If you are new to international shipping then I recommend a Freight Forwarder. A freight forwarder is a person or company that makes arrangements for shipments for individuals or other companies. But even when dealing with a freight forwarder it is wise to have a basic understanding of the key factors in your decision: Price, Transit speed and Reliability.

Price:

Price is a major factor in any business decision but in shipping it can be complicated. Understanding how the price is calculated can make a difference in your choice of ocean freight over air freight. Most people would assume that ocean freight is cheaper but in reality that isn’t always the case. The biggest difference is that air freight is based on chargeable weight and ocean freight is based on container weight.

  • Chargeable weight is a combination of the weight and size of the shipment
  • Container weight is based more on the size of the shipment

Based on this difference alone larger heavier shipments will usually cost less on ocean freight than air freight.

One often overlooked cost in deciding between ocean freight vs air freight is destination charges. Destination fees include such things as customs fees and warehousing. The difference being warehousing fees often cost more at seaports than at airports.

Transit Speed:

Hands down air freight is faster than ocean freight. Air freight on average takes 2-3 days and ocean freight can take as long as a month to deliver. But fortunately with advances in technology and the increase in the number of canals, ocean shipping is getting faster and some ocean shipments are arriving in as little as 8 days.

Reliability:

Reliability is important and often a key to success in business. Though air freight is faster it is not immune to the effects of weather or mechinal issues that can ground a plane and delay a flight but even with such obstacles, air freight is more in tune to schedules and offers more flexibility in flight times. Ocean freight moves on a weekly schedule and it is crucial that your shipment arrive in time to make the ship otherwise it will be held until the next scheduled sailing and this can add additional port fees.

DRT International representatives will be happy to further discuss choosing the right option for your import and export needs.  We hope this has helped you understand the basics of ocean freight vs air freight for your import and export needs.