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You are here: Lesson 16: Handling the export logistics > Air freight  
Air freight


The first consignment of cargo carried by air was transported between London and Paris in 1924. Since this first cargo flight the carrying capacity and efficiency of aircraft has developed and increased dramatically. The movement of cargo by air is a highly specialised business, which is, in many respects, very different from moving cargo by sea or overland. It is subject to restrictions that arise from the nature of the aircraft itself.

Increasing importance of airfreight

Two major changes have taken place over recent years in many manufacturing industries and it is due to these changes that air freight is becoming a popular choice for transporting products internationally. The reason for this increase is:

  • The growing volume of technology-based products, these products are becoming lighter and smaller while their value is becoming greater justifying the expense of air freight
  • The second is the rapidly increasing trend in many industries towards "just-in-time" (JIT) inventories JIT is most effective where the goods in question can be moved by air. The benefits of JIT ordering are:
    • A substantial reduction in capital requirements
    • A substantial reduction in stockholding

Loading and stowing of cargo

Air cargo has to be specially prepared or modified to enable the cargo to fit into the aircraft. The upper and lower deck configuration, mass and dimension limitations, pressure and air temperature variations and the floor load factors must be taken into consideration by the shipper of the cargo. All aircraft have limited carrying capacity, and loading beyond the safety limit in terms of the mass and volume of the cargo is not permitted. The actual limitations vary from one type of aircraft to another.

To facilitate quicker and safer loading, airline personnel group all air cargo into larger units on pallets or containers. These are collectively known as Unit Load Devices or ULD's. ULD's play an important part in the loading and discharging of aircraft. The floor of an aircraft is equipped with roller beds for ease of movement of the ULD's. Since the introduction of Unit Load Devices into the air freight industry, cargo is discharged quicker and theft and damages have been greatly reduced.

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    Step 16: more information

    Step 16: Handling the export logistics
          .Sea Freight
                 .Air Freight calculations
          .Rail Freight
          .Road Freight
          .River Freight

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    More information on Lesson 16
    Learning to export... The export process in 21 easy steps
    Step 1: Considering exporting
    Step 2:Current business viability
    Step 3:Export readiness
    Step 4:Broad mission statement and initial budget
    Step 5:Confirming management's commitment to exports
    Step 6: Undertaking an initial SWOT analysis of the firm
    Step 7:Selecting and researching potential countries abroad
    Step 8: Preparing and implementing your export plan
    Step 9: Obtaining financing for your exports
    Step 10: Managing your export risk
    Step 11: Promoting the firm and its products abroad
    Step 12: Negotiating and quoting in exports
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    Step 14: Obtaining the export order
    Step 15: Producing the goods
    Step 16: Handling the export logistics
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    Step 20: Reviewing and improving the export process
    Step 21: Export Management
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