Air freight versus sea freight – How to choose in 2022

Air freight versus sea freight – How to choose in 2022

Choosing the correct mode of transport can be tricky. It’s often a question of time and money. Do your goods need to be moved quickly? Or would you rather keep the costs down? You probably want to get a good balance between the both. To ease your decision I put together a number of key factors to consider before making your decision.

How much money are you willing to spend on transporting your goods?

If you ask which mode of transport that will cost you the least, you will most likely get the answer that shipping by sea is cheaper than shipping by air. Typically, this is true. However, it’s not necessarily the case. This might depend on how logistic and transport companies charge for international shipping and the size of your shipment.

Airlines charge according to the chargeable weight of a shipment, which is based on the weight and size. That’s because large items with a light overall weight take up more space on an aircraft than a small, heavy item. Sea carriers charge per container rates for shipping in standard containers. The charge is usually based on the size of a shipment (even if weight can factor into the price). A factor that affects the cost of containerised sea freight is whether the goods require a dedicated full container (FCL) or can be consolidated with other cargo (LCL). In case of the latter, your price is often determined by its volume in cubic meter.

With larger and heavier shipments, it is often much cheaper to ship by sea. As a shipment gets smaller, the margin between the prices gets smaller and sometimes air will even end up less expensive.

Another factor to consider is the destination charges, such as customs and fees, which you have to pay regardless of which mode of transport you chose. Even if you find that the costs for shipping by sea is cheaper than the costs for shipping by air, the warehouse fees at seaports can be much more expensive than the warehouses at airports.

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