Air freight is the transfer of goods by air. Though this is the fastest and usually most efficient (based on a specific set of parameters) method of transferring goods especially over long distances, it has its challenges.  

For instance, lack of two-way activity or issues with air freight rate charts, or air freight cost calculator issues not covered in the daily intercontinental or international operations “manual” can also create problems. 

In this article, we identify some of the most important factors to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to choose air freight services

What Should You  Know About Air Freight Cost?

Decoding airfreight costs involves understanding the factors that influence pricing, the calculations involved, and strategies for optimizing these costs. 

Here's what you need to know.

7 Factors Influencing Air Freight Cost

Weight or Volume

Air freight charges are typically based on either the actual weight (in kilograms or pounds) or the volumetric weight of the shipment. 

The volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of the shipment and dividing the result by a volumetric conversion factor. Air carriers will charge based on whichever weight is higher.

Distance and Route 

The distance traveled and the specific route taken by the shipment is a major factor. Longer distances and more complex routes may result in higher charges.

Freight Class

Air carriers assign specific freight classes to different types of goods based on factors like size, fragility, and density. Higher freight classes often entail higher rates.

Service Level

The level of service chosen, such as standard or expedited delivery, affects the cost. Time-sensitive shipments or those requiring special handling may command higher rates.

Fuel Surcharges

Fluctuating fuel prices can result in fuel surcharges added to air freight costs. These surcharges help offset the carrier's fuel expenses and can vary over time.

Handling Requirements

Special handling requirements, such as temperature-controlled environments or hazardous materials, may incur additional charges due to the need for specialized equipment, documentation, or safety protocols.

Customs and Duties

Customs clearance fees and import duties imposed by countries can impact air freight costs, especially for international shipments. These costs vary based on the nature of the goods and the specific regulations of each country.

How Are Air Freight Costs Calculated

These costs are typically calculated using a combination of the factors mentioned above. Freight forwarders or airlines use rate sheets, tariffs, or contracts to determine the pricing based on the specific parameters of the shipment. 

In this context, several factors are associated with the air freight cost calculator.

Air Freight Rates Chart 

The air freight rates chart per unit (e.g., per kilogram or pound) is multiplied by the weight or volumetric weight to determine the base cost.

Additional Charges

Additional charges, such as fuel surcharges, handling fees, customs fees, or any other applicable fees, are added to the base cost.

How To Optimize Or Calculate Air Freight Cost?

To optimize air freight costs, consider the following strategies:

Consolidation: Consolidating smaller shipments into larger shipments or utilizing consolidation services can help reduce costs by maximizing cargo capacity and reducing handling fees.

More specifically,  several small packages can be packed together in one large box, or a bigger container to make up for the air freight cost of one package only. Shipping companies use this tactic frequently, as part of an easy way to calculate air freight costs, making it a convenience not only for themselves but also customers from all over the world.

Packaging and Dimensional Optimization: Efficient packaging and utilizing the smallest possible dimensions can minimize volumetric weight and reduce costs.

Planning and Lead Time: Providing sufficient lead time for shipments allows for more cost-effective routing options and reduces the need for expedited services.

Carrier Selection and Negotiation: Researching and comparing multiple carriers, their rates, and service levels can help identify cost-effective options. Negotiating contracts or long-term agreements with carriers can also lead to better pricing.

Supply Chain Visibility and Efficiency: Enhancing supply chain visibility and efficiency through technology, improved coordination, and streamlined processes can help reduce costs associated with delays, inventory management, and last-minute changes.

Incoterms and Trade Terms: Understanding and leveraging appropriate Incoterms (international commercial terms) can help clarify cost responsibilities between buyer and seller, avoiding unexpected charges or disputes.

By considering these factors, calculations, and optimization strategies, businesses can mitigate the complexities of air freight costs and make informed decisions to manage and control their air transportation expenses.

Are There Any Online Tools To Calculate Air Freight Costs?

Yes, there are several online tools available that can help you calculate air freight costs. 

These tools take into account various factors such as the weight and dimensions of the shipment, the origin and destination locations, the type of goods being shipped, and any additional services required. 

Here are a few popular online tools that work as robust air freight cost calculators:

1. Freightos

This platform provides instant quotes for air freight shipments. You can input your shipment details, including the dimensions, weight, origin, and destination, and receive real-time quotes from multiple freight forwarders.

2. iContainers

iContainers is an online freight forwarder that offers instant quotes for air freight shipments. 

You can enter your shipment details, and the platform will provide you with a range of options and costs.

3. Freight Calculator

Freight Calculator is a free web-based air freight cost tool that allows you to calculate air freight costs based on various parameters. It considers factors like the weight, dimensions, and type of goods, as well as the origin and destination countries.

4. Shipa Freight

Shipa Freight is an online platform that provides instant quotes for air freight shipments. You can input your shipment details, and the tool will generate a quote based on the provided information.

5. FedEx, UPS, and DHL

Some freight companies offer their own free air freight cost calculators. 

These popular shipping carriers offer online tools on their websites that allow you to calculate air freight costs for shipments sent through their services. 

You can input the necessary details, and the tools will provide you with a cost estimate. The tool’s cost suggestions are based on an in-built air freight rates chart. Sometimes, it’s accurate, but the actual rates may differ, based on the box, shipment, or cargo weight/ dimensions that you are eventually looking to send or receive.

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