air freight vs sea freight

This blog will tell you everything you need to know about air freight vs. sea freight so you can decide which one is best for you in the shipping process.

There are always choices to be made in life and business. There are many options when it comes to international shipping.
Of all these choices, the most basic is the decision of what kind of transport to use: air freight or ocean freight. Whether you’re a business that will always be sending packages overseas or a person moving to a new country, choosing between ocean freight and air freight is an important decision. When making this choice, you should think about four important things.

This table shows the shipping volumes by sea and air from China over a period from 2018 to 2022.

What’s air freight?

Air freight refers to the movement of cargo or passengers on an aircraft. The term can be used in reference to any flight-related service, such as air-conditioned cargo transport or passenger charter flights.

Air freight is one of the best ways to transport things quickly and efficiently from one place to another. To break down the meaning, air freight is the movement of goods through the air by plane or any other means.

A lot of companies choose air freight services because they are the best way to get a product from one place to another in the shortest amount of time. Shippers will need to use reputable and reliable air freight services to get their packages from one country to another.

Advantages of air freight

Fastest shipping way

When you need to move your goods quickly, there’s no question that air freight is better than sea freight or road transport.

Arrival and departure times that can be trusted

Flight arrival and departure times are very reliable because airlines are usually very good at keeping to their schedules. Even if you missed a flight, it wouldn’t cause much of a delay because most flights leave every hour.

Send your packages almost anywhere

There are a lot of airlines with a large number of destinations that reach almost every place on Earth. This means that you can send the package to almost anywhere.

Low insurance premiums mean big savings

Since air cargo is moved in a shorter amount of time, the cost of insurance is lower. Even though air freight can be pricey, it saves money in the long run because insurance costs are less.

Minimal Insurance Costs

Compared to other modes of shipping like ocean freight, insurance costs for air freight are often lower because it is seen as a low-risk mode of shipping. This could save a lot of money for companies that ship expensive items.

Less packing is needed

Most of the time, shipping by air requires less heavy packing than shipping by ocean. This means you don’t have to spend as much time or money to help with extra packing.

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Disadvantage of air freight

As you’ve seen, there are many good things about shipping freight by air. But not everything is perfect, and this way of getting around has some problems as well.

High shipping Costs

Because air freight shipping is quick, it is also expensive. If you want your items to arrive in a few days, you will have to pay.

Even if the distance is the same, it costs more to ship freight by air than by any other method. This is because companies that ship goods by land or sea use volume calculations, while companies that ship goods by air use weight calculations. How much it costs depends on where you want your things sent.

Depending on the weather

Remember that bad weather caused 2% of flights to be canceled? They can now be used to show that something is wrong. Even though the weather affects every type of transportation, this is still not a good thing. A few days’ delay shouldn’t be terrible, but it’s not always a good thing. This is especially important if the deadline for delivery is tight.

Size and weight Limitations

The next problem with air freight is that there are size and weight limits. Planes aren’t as big as ships, so they can’t carry as much weight. Because of this, there are some things that can’t be sent by air. For example, the world’s biggest plane can lift 250 tonnes, while a huge ship can carry more than 190,000 tonnes. Because of this, you should look into different ways to deliver big things.

What’s sea freight?

Sea freight, also called “ocean freight,” is when goods are shipped across the ocean on cargo or container ships. Sea freight is one of the most cost-effective ways to ship goods. Approximately 90% of all goods are shipped this way, and 70% of them are shipped in containers.

Specialty ships can carry large amounts of heavy cargo, such as grains, animal feed, fertilizers, salts, and lumber, as well as out-of-gauge equipment and products that need special facilities.

People who purchase from China or anywhere else in the world often use sea freight. Most of the time, sea freight shipping is the cheapest way for people who buy their stock overseas (and therefore bulk goods) to get them. If you’re bringing in a lot of goods, sea freight could be the cheapest way to do it.

Advantages of sea freight

If you are starting a business that will need to ship products from China, you may be wondering if you should use an air carrier or ocean freight shipping. Each way to get somewhere has pros and cons. Before you make a choice, you should know what the main advantages of ocean freight are.

Safety and Security

Ocean freight shipping is another benefit; shipments are made to carry dangerous materials and cargo safely. The industry knows how to handle these goods, and there are laws in place to protect the safety of the ship, its shipmates, its load, and the environment. As security gets better, cargo loss from sea disasters is going down gradually, and it has gone down a lot in the last ten years. During transport, containers are made to be secured and locked for extra safety.

The best option for large & heavy shipments

One of the best things about sea freight shipping is that freight forwarders can handle large, heavy, or bulky cargo. These kinds of loads are often called “breakbulk” or “Not in Trailer” (NIT) loads. This kind of cargo could include big cars, tools, building materials, and more.

Often too heavy or big to ship by air or even by truck, very large cargo is not a problem on many shipping vessels. This method of transport is especially good for heavy items that may cost more to ship by air. Shipping containers can be moved easily from ships to trucks or trains for travel further inland.

The cost-effective shipping

You already know that shipping by ocean freight takes a long time and costs less than sending it by air freight. But you might not realize how much different the prices are. Most of the time, shipping goods by sea is four to six times cheaper than sending them by air.

The cost of shipping by air freight is usually much more than the cost of shipping by ocean freight. However, there are some cases where you might want to ship your goods to the airport instead of your nearest port.

It helps the environment.

A cargo ship is much better for the environment than a plane when it comes to shipping goods across the ocean. Cargo planes hurt the environment because they put so much carbon dioxide into the air.

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Disadvantage of sea freight

There are both pros and cons to shipping goods by sea, such as:

  • Shipping by sea can take longer than other ways, and bad weather can worsen things.
  • Most routes and schedules can’t be changed.
  • It’s hard to follow the progress of your goods.
  • You have to pay taxes and port duties.
  • Fuel and currency service charges can be added to the basic freight rates.

Air freight VS. Sea freight

Freight mode shipments from China involve continual analysis. Working with a company that offers a comprehensive array of global logistics and technology services will ensure your preferred method is accessible when needed. Consider the following when choosing air freight or ocean shipping for your transportation needs.

Finding the best way to move your freight takes constant analysis. Reviewing your supply chain needs just once won’t be enough to keep it efficient and cost-effective.

No matter which method you choose, working with a supplier who offers a full suite of global shipping and technology services can help make sure the method you want is available when you need it the most.
When deciding whether air freight or ocean shipping is the best way to meet your current shipping needs, be sure to think about the following.

Cost of Sea Freight and Air Freight

You probably don’t need to be told to consider how much something will cost. When you run a business, you think about the bottom line, and you make a budget when you live on your own. You’ll want to know which will cost you less, air or ocean freight.

Most of the time, people say that shipping by sea is less costly than shipping by air.

There will be customs and destination fees whether you ship by air or sea. Even though shipping by sea is usually less expensive than shipping by air, warehousing fees at seaports are many times higher than those at airports.

Air freight is billed by chargeable weight, which is a metric that adds up the weight and size of the shipment. Most of the time, weight is not a factor in ocean shipping. Instead, ocean shipping is charged by the container, with a flat rate for a full standard container (20′ x 40′). LCL, or “less than container loads,” are charged by the cubic meter.

When sending large cargo from China, it is often much cheaper to ship by ocean. But as the size of a shipment gets smaller, the difference between air and ocean prices also gets smaller.

Speed: Which one is faster air freight vs sea freight?

When it comes to speed, it’s clear that air freight is usually much faster than cargo ships. Since time is money, this could make up for the fact that flying cargo costs more. Most sea shipments take about a month to get there, while air shipments only take a few days.

Most of the time, shipping faster is better for business. When a person moves to a new country, it is often helpful to have more time to get ready for the arrival of household goods.

In the world of international shipping, it is important to note that technology is always getting better. Ships are getting faster. Because of tunnels, shipping routes are now shorter. For example, there are a lot of ocean freight shipments that can be delivered in as little as eight days.

Reliability: Both methods can ensure reliability

We all want people, businesses, products, and services that we can count on. Air freight shipping has been around shorter story than ocean freight shipping, but it tends to be more reliable. Weather and other things can cause flights to be late, but airlines are usually very busy with their schedules.

People know that ocean carriers are bad at this. It’s pretty common for ships to be late. Many people don’t mind missing a day or two here and there, but missing a day or two could be very expensive for many businesses. Airlines usually have flights back and forth between the world’s biggest cities daily.

Because of this, they were missing a flight, which doesn’t cause a cargo shipment to be held up very much. Most ocean lines have schedules that repeat every week. If you miss the deadline at a seaport, you will have to wait longer.

This doesn’t necessarily mean air freight is always more reliable than ocean freight. When ships get behind schedule, it usually takes them a few days to get back on track. However, ongoing partnerships between ocean carriers can make ocean services more reliable and trustworthy.

This makes ocean shipping a good option, even for cargo that needs to be sent quickly, like food, clothing, and auto parts.

Environmental Impact

Not everything is about making money and making things easy. Even though public awareness of environmental issues might affect how people see a business and its bottom line, it is everyone’s responsibility to care for our planet. It looks like ocean freight is the winner here.

When goods are shipped by air instead of by sea, more CO2 is released. Because of this, shipping goods by air has a much bigger carbon output than shipping goods by sea. But when you think about oil pollution and how ocean freight affects water ecosystems, it makes you stop and think.

Which is the best method for shipping from China?

So, to sum up, air freight is a good way to ship from China if you need to ship a small number of high-value items quickly. For example, if you’re transporting electronics, clothes, drugs, expensive jewelry, or a sample order to a customer, air freight from China may be the best way to send your goods overseas.

The average air freight shipping from China takes a few days to a week, while ocean shipping from China can take anywhere from 20 to 60 days. But shipping by air can cost three times as much or even more.

Most of the time, the speed of delivery is the main reason to choose air service. When you ship your goods by air instead of by sea, you can speed up the process. This is very helpful when shipping things that don’t last long. But higher transportation costs often come with faster service. What makes sense for your shipping strategy is up to you to decide.

Conclusion

So, if you’re having trouble making the best shipping decisions in shipping from China to every country, air freight vs sea freight, which is better?

Trust a freight forwarder such as Hipofly that is big enough to combine your air and sea freight with that of other companies to save money. Hipofly, a shipping company in China, will give you so much awesome information about the best choice. In the end, Air freight is essential if time is important for you, and sea freight is advised for you if cost is important for you.

FAQs

What are the benefits of air freight?

Air freight has several benefits over other forms of transportation like ocean and land. These include its flexibility and speed, which allow it to be more cost-effective than other methods. Air freight also has a low carbon footprint due to its use in aviation fuel.

What are the advantages of sea freight?

The advantages of shipping large quantities of cargo by sea are the ability to send them for less money and the ability for a freight forwarder to combine shipments to lower costs.

Who uses air freight services the most?

Air freight services are mainly used by businesses and individuals who need to move their goods from one place to another quickly. Airlines are the most popular carriers of air freight services, which use airplanes for transportation purposes.

How is it different from other forms of transportation?

The major differences between air travel and ground transportation are the speed and the convenience. Air travel is faster than ground transport, but it is also more expensive.

What are the disadvantages of air freight shipping?

The most common disadvantage of air freight shipping is that it is more expensive than sea freight shipping. This makes air freight shipping more expensive for small businesses that need to ship the same amount of goods by sea.

Which is better, air freight vs sea freight?

Air freight is faster but also more expensive than sea freight because airlines have High rates. It depends on your conditions.

Are air and sea freight costs different?

Since sea freight uses large vessels that can transport heavier loads over longer distances for less money, it is typically 12 to 16 times less expensive than air freight. However, it is usually more costly because air cargo must be delivered faster and at a higher fuel cost.

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