International air freight shipping

There are many shippers who may be tempted to arrange their international air freight shipments themselves because it can look easy from the outside.

The truth is, the international air freight consolidation business requires a hands-on attention to detail that involves after-hours communications and tracking the shipment from departure to destination.

The freight coordination is involved and requires double checking the packing, weight and dimensions as well as finding reliable truckers and the right airlines who are able to accommodate a large air freight shipment from the nearest airport on a flight schedule that compliments the customer’ s timeline.

What many shippers don’t realize is that there are many fluctuating factors that can affect a shipment schedule at any given time. From natural disasters and weather to busy seasons and priority cargo, delays can be caused by many different factors unbeknownst to the average shipper.

However, a knowledgeable freight forwarder should be able to not only anticipate known seasonal delays but to also help to reroute a shipment so that the shipper’s timeline is not compromised.

In our most recent example, our shipper had sought out the expertise of ETC International Freight System to arrange their shipment of 43 pallets of irrigation equipment for a golf course from the Los Angeles area to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. 

ETC first arranged the pick up of the 43 heat treated pallets (required for export) containing 28,446lbs (12,903 kilos) with a volume of 1554 cubic feet (44 CBM) of packed irrigation equipment from the Los Angeles metro area. This is no small feat. A dedicated 1×53’ trailer driven by a TSA certified driver was required for the transport.

Due to the shippers timeline, the goods needed to be shipped via air freight to Vietnam. Pricing air freight is predicated on general air freight industry assumptions of flight schedules, capacities, weight, volume, origin / destination and whether or not the freight contains hazardous materials. When the bid goes out, it is contingent on the shipment weight and volume being checked for accuracy and within the (IATA) air industry expectations.

After checking with various airlines, all had delays due to the yearly seasonal fresh fruit shipments that are considered priority cargo. The only airline with immediate availability for space and immediate departure was China Airlines, which came with a higher freight rate. Lower rates were available with other airlines, however, they had no capacity for our weight and volume.

The issue begins with a bid that is sent to the customer far in advance of the shipping date. Air freight rates and space availability are always sensitive issues because changes can happen with little or no notice. As an international freight forwarder, our primary role is to liaise with all parties as efficiently as possible. With this irrigation equipment, we had to notify the customer prior to touching the cargo that, in order to maintain their timeline, the initial air freight rate would change and explain in great details the reasons for the changes.

We explained to our client that the industry was flooded with the yearly (seasonal) priority cargo (fresh fruit) and most airlines were flying at full capacity leaving other cargoes on standby or shipping incrementally. This was not an option for our shipper. So, the international freight forwarder’s function is to canvas the entire pool of airlines flying from the LAX airport to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam and locate an airline that has the capacity to air freight our shipment, in its entirety, on one aircraft. In our case, this was China Airlines. 

Once the forwarder has the airline interested in the shipment, a new spot rate (lower than their general cargo rate) is negotiated. Then, our customer is informed of it and has to make the final decision to accept or reject the new air freight rate. Once the customer agrees to the new rate, we establish a booking with that airline and arrange the pick-up and delivery of the cargo. 

Important Freight Terms (Incoterms):

This shipper is exporting on a C & F Freight prepaid basis. Our freight invoice was sent to the local shipper after the weight and volume are double checked by the airlines. Typically, the airlines request outside warehouses to verify the weight and volume. In this instance, we requested the airlines to re-weigh then check all dimensions and inform the customer that the billing will reflect the airlines cargo correction advice (CCA). 

When you partner with an international freight forwarder, like ETC, you’re able to spend time managing your business’ day to day and not worrying about the details of your shipment. Our more than 30 years of experience helps us to understand the constant ebbs and flows of the shipping industry so we can do the leg work to make sure your shipment arrives at the correct destination on time. Click here to request your FREE air freight rate quote.

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