Factors to Consider for International Shipping: Air Freight versus Ocean Freight

Factors to Consider for International Shipping: Air Freight versus Ocean Freight

Decisions need to be made when it comes to your business, as it is often the case when it comes down to day-to-day choices even if it’s a simple as tea or coffee. However, when you require international shipping services, whether it’s for business or personal uses, there are many factors to consider. One decision is which method of international freight you should choose (the choices being air freight or ocean freight). Whether you need to ship a load of cargo overseas or need to send personal effects when moving overseas, then you should consider these factors, such as availability of goods in hand (speed) as well as reliability too. Let’s look at each more closely.

Transco Cargo Australia - International Shipping Ocean Freight Air Freight


One of the first things that you look into when you request an international shipping quote would be how much it will cost you to get your goods from Point A to Point B! Whilst businesses may look at the bottom line (the company’s income once expenses have been deducted from the revenue) or if you’re looking at personal effects shipping overseas then budget would be your biggest concern.  Some say that ocean freight is a cheaper option against air freight, and this may be the case in certain situations, however, that doesn’t mean it’s a rule of thumbs. You may find situations where it’s reversed.

Air freight carriers bill by chargeable weight with a calculation based on the weight and the size of the shipment, whereas sea freight carriers charge by container rates where the most commons are 20’ & 40’.  In the event that you are shipping less than a Full Container Load (FCL), your quote will be calculated depending on the size of your shipment by cubic meter. If you are looking at large or heavy shipments of goods, then you are right to choose ocean freight and decide between LCL (Less than Container Load) and FCL. However if the shipment is smaller, the air freight rates may be more desirable as it could be cheaper to ship via air freight when the shipment is smaller.

Another cost factor that plays a hand here would also be customs clearance charges and other destination fees (including warehousing rates at seaports). All these factors should be considered when assessing the budget between air freight and ocean freight.


If you look at speed, then air freight is the sure-fire winner. If you have an urgent need where time saved is money saved then paying extra for air freight to make up for lead time is justified. In the event you needed a time advantage and considered transit time between air freight and sea/ocean freight, air freight will take 3-7 days for delivery whilst it could be 12-14 days on the shorter scale for shipping by sea.


In terms of reliability, despite air freight being newer to the centuries old sea freight, you will find that shipping by air is more reliable as companies are on top of schedules despite the natural setbacks and unforeseen circumstances. Also you need to look at the goods you are planning on shipping. If you have perishable or fragile goods that require specific care such as moisture control, then choose air as not all shipping containers are air tight or look at moisture control.

These are just factors to consider in terms of ensuring safe passage from Point A to Point B. What is your preferred choice of freight when shipping internationally?


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