What are the differences between air and sea freight forwarding?

When it comes to international freight, the main decision many importers and exporters have to make is whether to use air or ocean shipping. Choosing between sending your goods as sea freight or air cargo offers different benefits with each method. The following is our guide to the differences between sea and air cargo and their respective benefits. Find out more about our freight services below.

Freight Forwarding Services

Cost Efficient Freight Forwarding

In most cases sending your goods by sea freight is a cheaper option compared to sending them by air. As a general rule, shipping by sea costs between five and six times less than by air. In addition, sea shipping is more economical for heavier cargo, which can cost six times the amount when transported by air. However, air freight can work out more beneficial for shipping small packages, particularly those less than a cubic metre in size.

Transit Time Considerations

Air freight is generally a more secure and faster option than sea shipping, often taking only a couple of days for delivery compared to weeks or even months at sea. For sensitive or expensive items such as medical equipment, or perishable items such as food, air freight is usually the preferred option in terms of speed and reliability. It can also be a better choice if you are running a business that markets itself on fast delivery.

Customs Processing

Both sea and air freight need to be processed by customs. They must have the right documentation, commercial invoicing, and other documentation specific to where they are being sent and who is receiving them. Air freight will most likely have a more prohibitive list of items that cannot be sent compared to sea shipping. In both cases, duty and taxes are largely the same, although more tax will be paid if overall shipping costs are greater. Our sister company, GFS Customs Clearance can help with advice and all of the necessary paper work.

Environmental Impact of Freight Forwarding

With climate change being an ongoing issue for the public and businesses alike, importers and exporters have had to consider the environmental impact of shipping methods carefully. In terms of lowering your carbon footprint, sea shipping is the better option. The amount of CO2 emitted during air travel is around 500g per metric ton of freight per km travelled, while sea shipping creates an emission of up to 40g of CO2 per km travelled.

Want to find out more about our freight forwarding services?

Here at Graysons Freight Services, we offer a variety of ways to ship your goods both domestically and internationally. We offer sea shipping services, both full container load and less than container load, as well as fast and flexible air freight services. We also provide services for third-country shipping, where supply and export are arranged between multiple countries, and break bulk cargo, allowing for shipping oversized cargo worldwide. We have been providing freight solutions to businesses for over 30 years, including customs/excise requirements, warehousing and logistics.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our freight services.

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