An introduction to Airfreight

This course will introduce airfreight and how to calculate airfreight costs.


Airfreight overview

Airfreight introduction

Airfreight is the fastest way to deliver cargo to it's destination it's also the most expensive option. 

Airfreight rates can vary from one day to the next making it hard to quote with long validities. 

All cargo can be moved by airfreight whether it's ambient, temperature controlled or hazardous.

Different cargo can be transported by passenger, cargo or combi aircraft: 

Passenger aircraft use the spare volume in the baggage hold 'the belly' that is not being used for passenger bags. Cargo can also be transported in the passenger cabin as 'carry on' by an 'on-board courier'. 

Cargo aircraft are dedicated aircrafts for moving cargo. They carry cargo on the main deck and in the hold. These are either loaded through the nose of the plane or the side of the plane. 

Combi aircraft carry cargo on part of the main deck either before or after a passengers' section with side loading and in the hold.

Airfreight introduction continued

Airfreight rates are charged by what's known as the 'chargeable weight'.

In order to find the chargeable weight we must first work out the Volumetric weight.

When do you think the first airfreight flight took place?

  • 1895
  • 1910
  • 1935
  • 1950


Do you know how to calculate the cubic metre of a shipment?

A 'cube' is a shape formed by having the same length, breadth and height.
A 'cubic metre' refers to a unit of volume that is one metre in length, breadth and height. 

  • Yes
  • No

Do you know how to calculate Volumetric weight?

Not everyone does!

The volume measured weight also known as the volumetric weight of a shipment is a calculation that reflects the density of a package. A less dense item generally occupies more volume of space, in comparison to its actual weight. 

All of these weigh less than:

These! But the pool noodles will take up a lot more space on a plane. 

Because airfreight has limited space it's important that volume is taken into consideration. 

Do you know how to calculate Volumetric weight?

  • Yes
  • No

Do you know what chargeable weight is?

Remember to always round up to the nearest gram for the chargeable weight. 

  • Yes
  • No

Here's a full example...

1 pallet = 1.2 m x 1.4m x 90cm = Actual volume = 1.512 CBM1.512 / 6 x 1000 = Volumetric weight = 252 kgs The actual gross weight of the pallet is 150 kgs then the chargeable weight will be 252 kgs. 

If, the pallet gross weight is 253 kgs then this will be the chargeable weight. 

Note: Always round up any weights for airfreight - the airline will and you don't want to end up making a loss.

E.G. 1326.35 KG = 1327 KG 

Costing an airfreight

Airfreight costings introduction

FOB airfreight charges

On a typical airfreight that EWL have arranged you would see the following charges:

Freight - This charge would be given in $ Dollars and would be charged per chargeable kilo.

AHC - This means Airline handling charge and varies from airport to airport.

Customs clearance - This charge is from a third party clearing agent because we cannot clear our own airfreight.

UK Haulage - This will be for UK Haulage from the airport to your customers' premises. 

Requesting rates from Optimum Freight Solutions

If a customer asks EWL for an airfreight quote then you'll need to ask Optimum Freight for the costs.

Optimum freight handle all EWL airfreight on our behalf allowing a clear and constant information channel. 

Example email to Optimum Freight for a quote.

The email tells Optimum freight the cargo details including weights, the origin airport and the final destination and request service options. 

The premium service often is the most expensive but the transit times are usually faster.

What's the cubic metre for this shipment?

What's the cubic metre for this shipment?

You will want to use a calculator for this. 

Remember the equation? It's.....

Length x Width x Height = Cubic metre of a shipment

  • 87.50 CBM
  • 8.75 CBM
  • 6.21 CBM
  • 10.40 CBM

What's the Gross weight for this shipment?

What's the total gross weight for this shipment?

You will want to use a calculator for this. 

Remember the equation? 

  • 1375 KGS
  • 1425 KGS
  • 125 KGS
  • 1093.75 KGS

What's the Volumetric weight for this shipment?

What's the volumetric weight for this shipment? 

You will definitely need a calculator for this. 

You will need the Cubic metre you worked out earlier.

Remember the equation?

Divide by 6 times by 1000

For example: 

4.8 CBM = 4.8 / 6 x 1000 = 800 Kgs volumetric weight

  • 1256.00 Kgs
  • 1458.33 Kgs
  • 1758.55 Kgs
  • 1459.00 Kgs

Let's have a go at working out the cost of an airfreight

Optimum have quoted us the following:

Air freight - USD 2.15 / Kg 

Airline handling - GBP 0.205 / Kg 

Haulage - GBP 165.00

Documentation - GBP 15.00 

Have a go and make a note of your answers, there are questions coming up.


Let's have a look at the calculation required to work out the total for the airfreight.

Do you remember the Chargeable weight?

First, you will need your charge weight and the calculation will be as follows:

$2.15 x charge weight in Kg = $ Total airfreight cost

Airline handling

Airline handling is often quoted to three decimal places. 

Again you'll need your charge weight.

The calculation is as follows: 

£0.205 x charge weight in Kg = £ Total AHC cost


There is no need for a calculation for the haulage, this has been quoted as an 'all inclusive' charge.


There is no need for a calculation for the documentation, this has been quoted as an 'all inclusive' charge.

What's the total cost for the airfreight charge?

Heading 1 text goes here

Here's a reminder of the cargo details just in case you need them.

The total charge for the airfreight is $ .              

What's the total cost for Airline handling charge?

Again, here's a reminder of the cargo details.

The total charge for airline handling is       .