Air freight

From CEOpedia | Management online

Air freight is a means of transporting products and good across the globe. Cargo is transported daily on several different types of airplanes. This allows for products of origin countries to be delivered in places where that product is most likely unavailable. Air freight is not limited to only certain goods and services, but also luxurious automobiles, exotic animals, military equipment, etc.[1]

History of Air Freight

A brief history of air freight

  • 1910 - The first transport of cargo, by plane, took place from Daytona, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio
  • 1914 - The first commerical airplane flight took place, from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tampa, Florida[2]
  • 1918 - The first official routes by the USPS were created[3]
  • 1969 - DHL was created
  • 2018 - there were 1870 freighters in operation worldwide [4]

Types of Aircrafts

Air transport can be divided into

  • Passenger airplane carries a limited amount of people
  • Passenger-goods combination airplane can carry goods and people on different levels
  • Cargo airplanes primarily carry goods from country to country

Advantages and Disadvantages

Air freight has a large amount of advantages. For example, speed, which is a crucial part of transport, is the reason people choose air freight. When shipping internationally, or just far away, the fastest method of transport is by air.

Since the time of transport is so short, another advantage is the fact that the economy relies on trade and distribution. For example, products of high important e.g. pharmaceuticals, machinery, etc. are crucial for various companies. These products that are important have a specific window of time, when they need to be delivered to meet the demand.

In economic terms, the airplane cargo/passenger combination delivers goods, and takes people to where they need to go. Instead of sending one airplane with one thing, airlines are able to do both at the same time.

The final advantage is the fact that airplanes are extremely reliable. Safety is a large concern for the public and companies.

A big disadvantage, on the other side, is even though plans are extremely reliable, there is always a chance an accident may occur.

Weather is also a key player in air transport. With bad conditions, planes are unable to fly/take off at a given moment.[5]

Biggest Cargo Companies

Here are the biggest cargo companies according to the Top 25 Airlines: Ranked by Cargo Traffic [6]

Rank Airline Scheduled Cargo Tonne–Kilometers (millions)
1 Qatar Airways 13,024
2 Emirates 12,052
3 Cathay Pacific Airways 10,930
4 Federal Express 8,851
5 Korean Air 7,390



Author: Krzysztof Nagaba-Poniatowski