For time- or temperature- critical shipments, nothing beats air freight. It is a highly efficient, highly visible form of shipping that has become an integral component of many modern supply chains, allowing shippers greater agility and speed to market. However, these gains can often come with a steep price tag. Here is a quick guide on how to best approach integrating air freight into your supply chain. 

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Know the Benefits

  • Time: Air freight offers the shortest lead times allowing for faster inventory replenishments and response to demand, as well as lower inventory carrying costs. The result is increased supply chain agility. It also means longer shelf lives for time-critical products, thus decreasing potential losses. 
  • Temperature: because of its speed, air freight can be an excellent method of transportation for temperature sensitive products, making it a valuable option for cold chain shippers.
  • Distance: Air freight offers a high level of visibility over long distances and in some cases can be the only way to reach certain remote destinations and emerging markets.

Know the options

  • Next Flight Out / Expedited: Exactly what it sounds like, next flight out services ship your cargo as soon as a flight becomes available. This method is both the fastest and costliest and is thus best suited for urgent and high time-critical shipments. 
  • Consolidation: Your cargo travels alongside other shipments from various other shippers. Flights leave at predetermined and scheduled times to give the providers enough time to find and arrange for the consolidation. It’s cheaper than next flight out services and more costly than deferred services, allowing you to balance cost and time efficiencies. 
  • Deferred service: Offering the most cost savings, deferred air service lowers your freight’s priority level so that it is shipped on the next aircraft with available space. The cargo will typically ship in 3-5 business days.
  • Partial Air Charter: Similar to consolidation and harder to obtain, a partial air charter is when a portion of an aircraft is chartered (as opposed to then entire plane). It is useful in cases where more capacity is needed but where a whole aircraft is not. 

Know What to Consider

Cost is important but not the only element to consider when evaluating air freight and supply chain solutions. Air is the most expensive mode of transportation but can drastically lower inventory carrying costs and increase speed to market, market access, and agility.

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