Sea Freight Vs Air Freight – Which Option Is Better?

Every single person involved in logistics knows there are countless decisions made every single day. One of the vital ones is how goods will be transported. Fortunately, in many cases, this is a straightforward decision. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Whenever tight timelines and global shipping needs collide, it is very difficult to make a correct choice. As is the case with sea freight vs air freight.

According to Freight Assist Melbourne, out of all the different international shipping options, the most common ones are sea freight and air freight. These are the most popular because of how efficient they are and because the infrastructure already available.

Let’s take a look at these two options so that we can easily figure out what option is better for you and your operations, ranging from dropshipping to setting up brick and mortar stores.

Air Freight Vs Sea Freight

An ongoing analysis is needed to determine the perfect freight transportation mode. It is not enough to take a look at the supply chain you use once and then expect everything to work out similarly in the future.

Regardless of the method chosen, it is always highly recommended to work with a freight forwarding company that gives you complete technology and logistics services. This gives you access to the best transport method whenever necessary, based on unique needs. With this in mind, think about the following when you make your final choice between air freight and sea freight.

Freight Characteristics Influence Costs

You might believe that sea freight will always be cheaper but a more careful understanding of how the services are billed can share a different light.

With air freight, chargeable weight is used. This is a metric that is calculated through the combination of shipment size and weight. With air freight, the shipment weight is not factored in. Ocean shipping uses a by container shipment payment, which is usually a standard flat rate. If a container is not loaded fully, cubic meter is used to bill.

For a heavier, larger shipment, sea freight is less expensive. However, when shipment sizes go down, the margins between sea and air prices decrease. At the same time, actual transportation costs are just the beginning. It might also be necessary to calculate the costs of the inventory. For instance, with sea freight, we often have to discuss warehousing fees, which are more expensive than airport warehousing fees.

Obviously, with both transportation modes, destination and customs fees apply during international shipping.

The Influence Of Speed

It is quite easy to notice that air freight transportation is much faster. With ocean shipments, it might take weeks for a package to arrive to the final destination. Air freight often reaches the final destination in a single day, maybe 2. Ships are definitely getting faster and faster but air freight speed will most likely never be surpassed.

With faster delivery times, we have to discuss the fact that across countless industries, customers expect faster results. However, before you instantly ship by air, you need to strategically plan out everything so that you can save money and increase long-term efficiency.

High Reliability

Generally, airlines are much better when it comes to handling changes with schedule when compared with ocean carriers. It is much more common for some factors, like changing weather conditions, to throw off schedules. However, flights can quickly be rescheduled and rearranged since there are normally many of them happening every single day. Ships tend to follow a weekly schedule.

Keep in mind that this fact does not instantly mean that with air freight you have increased reliability. As ships face schedule problems, some days are needed for resuming normal operations. However, the alliances between the carriers can quickly build integrity and reliability. This means that sea freight is quite an appealing option, including when dealing with freight that is time-sensitive, like with auto parts, fashion items, and perishables.

Ocean Alliances Can Affect Services

The alliances signed between the ocean carriers will offer increased reliability. But they can also lead to complications.

As an example, when 3 carriers are working together, you might have your shipment handled by different ones during every transport. Every single carrier has different rules when thinking about the allowed commodities. This means that a product might be denied due to the changing rules.

What Freight Option Should You Choose?

In most cases, businesses choose to use air services because of delivery speed. As you move cargo through the air, the timetable is truncated and everything reaches the destination faster than with sea freight. Such a thing is particularly useful in the event that you need to ship items that have a shorter shelf life.

The problem is that faster service leads to higher prices. You have to determine what is much better for you, based on the shipping strategy you use.

What option is best in your case? We cannot answer this question.

You need to evaluate:

  • When goods arrive at the destination
  • The current budget
  • How air freight and sea freight will affect the top needs of the business

When the shipments you deal with have a quickly-approaching, strict arrival deadline and the budget you have allows it, air shipping is definitely the best option to take into account. Whenever the arrival date is more flexible or your main goal is to save cash, sea freight should be preferred.

Adrian Cruce

Marketer by day, gamer by night, human always!

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