Air Freight or Ocean Freight: Which is Better for Your Business?


Which is better if you need to send cargo overseas? Air freight? Or sea freight?

It depends on your unique business needs. Each type of carrier comes with advantages or disadvantages. 

Here are some things to consider if you still need to decide which service you want to use.

#1) Speed

How fast does your freight need to get to its destination?

Air freight is the only solution for time-sensitive shipping. Same-day or next-day delivery is possible by air.

By contrast, ocean freight can take 20 to 45 days. Ships are getting faster, but they aren't as fast as airplanes. Even if they were, ships could face other delays. 

#2) Budget

How strong is your shipping budget?

Air freight costs five times more than ocean freight, on average. It costs more to operate a plane than it does to run a ship. Fuel costs are higher, for example.

Planes also require companies to build and maintain airports and air traffic control systems; the cost of this more expensive infrastructure gets passed down the line to cargo customers.

There's also the matter of capacity: planes can't recoup costs by adding more cargo to the same plane. Capacity is limited, so the air carrier must charge higher prices for each flight.

#3) Shipment Size

Ocean freight may be the only viable option if you have larger shipments. A cargo ship can carry far more goods than an airplane. 

The largest cargo aircraft, the AN-225 Mriya, can carry a maximum payload of 250 tons and has a cargo hold capacity of 1,110 cubic meters. 

By contrast, most cargo ships can carry about 25,000 tons of cargo. These ships have a holding capacity of anywhere from 210,000 cubic meters and 266,000 cubic meters.  

#4) Shipment Type

It's impossible to use air freight for certain types of shipments. Any hazardous good must find its way to its destination via cargo ship. 

Hazardous materials include gas, flammables, toxins, batteries, magnetic substances, biochemical products, and any product that could cause a public health risk. 

#5) Environmental Issues

Many Houston companies have become conscious of climate change and are watching their carbon footprints out of concern for the future or respect for how their customer base will view them.

Ocean freight has a smaller impact on the environment than air freight does. 

Find the Right Solution for Your Business

While an online article can give generalized statements to help evaluate freight needs, there's no substitution for working closely with an expert. 

The Aries Worldwide Logistics team can help you decide how best to ship your freight after reviewing your unique shipping needs. We can help you get your cargo exactly where it needs to go. 

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