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Air freight



Advantages, types and challenges

As the name suggests, air freight includes all goods that are transported through airspace. In terms of the weight of the transported goods, air freight has a very low importance with a share of about 1%. However, when looking at the value of goods, this share is around 40%, which is due to the fact that air freight traffic is concentrated on particularly high-value, low-weight goods.

Type of goods for air freight

Typical air cargo items are mostly valuable items, very urgent spare parts and time-sensitive shipments, goods with short product cycles and products where fast market penetration is of enormous importance. In the event of a disaster, fast action is required. For this reason, relief goods are often sent by airfreight to the relevant crisis areas so that they reach those affected as quickly as possible.

When to choose air freight

When choosing the right mode of transportation, it is essential to weigh costs, transit time, and reliability.  Air freight is particularly popular for time-sensitive and temperature-sensitive goods. To ensure continuous availability even when demand suddenly increases, more and more companies are opting for air transportation.


  • Speed on medium and long haul routes 
  • Reliability, because flight schedules are strictly adhered to
  • Security, because there is relatively little transport damage and theft

Disadvantages of air freight

  • Costly compared to ground transportation
  • Location-dependent because transportation is tied to airports
  • Pre- and on-carriage to and from the airport must be organized

Forms of air freight

Belly Freight means that air cargo is carried by normal passenger aircraft in the lower decks of the aircraft. This applies to approximately 85% of the air cargo volume.

Freighter-only, on the other hand, is a cargo-only aircraft that carries only cargo. This applies to about 15% of the air cargo volume. Cargo-only aircraft have the advantage of offering more space and capacity than passenger aircraft. This means that exceptionally large and bulky shipments can also be transported.

What to consider for air freight as a shipper

The transportation of air cargo is associated with strict regulations and guidelines. In order to avoid unnecessary delays in customs clearance and to ensure smooth handling, the shipper should have prepared and provided all necessary paperwork.

The most important documents in air freight include:

  • Air Waybill: the air waybill must be prepared according to IATA guidelines and is internationally recognized as the sole accompanying document.
  • House Air Waybill (HAWB): on receiving the goods from the shipper, this document is issued by the freight forwarder to deliver the goods as agreed upon in the terms. It outlines the specifics of the individual shipments within the consolidated cargo.
  • Master-Air Waybill (MAWB): upon receiving the shipment, as specified in the shipping terms, the carrier issues a document to the freight forwarder, confirming their agreement to deliver the shipment to the designated location.
  • Dangerous goods shipper’s declaration (DGD): key document necessary when sending dangerous goods.
  • Commercial invoice: bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer.
  • Packing List: provides a detailed overview of the contents of the shipment.
  • Other accompanying documents depending on the regulations of the respective countries.

Redspher – above the clouds for you

Benefit from over 40 years of expertise in handling time-critical shipments. We set everything in motion for you! Find out more about the type of air solutions here.

Our team of transport experts is also available to you at any time, around the clock. Get in touch with us, we look forward to hearing from you and are ready to assist you in word and deed. 

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