It’s not widely known that the vast majority of air freight is sent in the belly holds of passenger aircraft so, when you are winging your way to your favourite foreign destination you might spare a thought for the tonnes of cargo sitting not so far beneath your feet!

Air freight is usually considered to be the best (and sometimes only) solution for the fast delivery of international consignments. However, it is of course expensive, especially as the weight and size of shipments increases. In order to keep costs down and to offer effective solutions and competitive prices, air freight carriers operate services in different ways:

  • Consolidation – where service providers purchase capacity on certain flights and then sell off that capacity to a number of individual shippers according to the weight or size of each individual shipment loaded on that flight. Also abbreviated to ‘Consol’, this arrangement usually offers the lowest cost. However, as the carrier buys capacity only on certain flights, there may only be a limited number of such departures available in any one week.

  • Back to Back – where service providers purchase capacity for individual shipments on individual flights. This is the premium service available and is usually more expensive than Consolidation, but cargo flies with carriers who have frequent / daily departures, i.e. goods do not have to wait until the next available Consolidation flight and they go on the first available departure. Consignments also travel on their own Master Airwaybill (MAWB)

  • Cargo / Freighter flights – some goods can be too big or heavy to go as belly hold cargo on passenger flights. A small number of specialist providers offer services using aircraft which are adapted for carrying just cargo and these have capacity for larger, heavier items. However, these services are infrequent and operate from and to a limited number of airports, some of which may be quite distant from the origin or destination points of the cargo being carried.

For all cargo being sent by air freight, senders and receivers should note that goods may well be routed via several airports en route to destination (i.e. not direct to destination) and the route followed may not necessarily be the shortest or most direct one, especially as certain major airports (e.g. Frankfurt, Dubai, Miami, Singapore, Hong Kong) act as regional hubs, connecting to smaller, regional airports. For these reasons, pure cargo flights don’t operate on the same routes or via the same airports as passenger flights.

Westhaven assesses the nature and specific requirements of each and every air freight consignment which arises and will recommend and propose the most appropriate solution in terms of practicality, speed and cost. We have access to excellent trade wholesale air freight tariffs for both export and import shipments and are pleased to pass on the benefits of this arrangement to our customers in the form of low prices. In addition to getting your goods under way to the destination airport, or from the nearest airport to your foreign supplier, we can arrange import Customs clearance both overseas and in the UK, as well as final delivery to you, or your customer’s, door.


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Westhaven Worldwide Logistics Arleston Way, Shirley, Solihull B90 4LH
0121 713 7250