How to calculate air freight? : Complete guide to estimate your costs

International Freight Forwarder

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Have you ever struggled to understand how the cost of air freight for your international shipments is calculated?

In this article, we will explain the steps of calculating air freight, explaining the methods used to determine the chargeable weight and applicable rates. As a professional in international transportation with years of experience in both maritime and air freight, I have often encountered enterprises that have saved thousands of euros by mastering these calculations.

Prepare to discover everything you need to know to efficiently estimate your air freight costs.

  • Mastering air freight calculation methods and the importance of chargeable weight
  • Knowing the factors affecting air freight rates

What is air freight?

Air freight refers to the transportation of goods by airplane, a fast and efficient way for delivering products worldwide. Crucial for international trade, it allows the rapid delivery of perishable goods, electronics, and other items requiring urgent transportation.

According to the IATA "Air Cargo Manual," air freight accounts for about 35% of the total value of goods transported globally, despite representing only 1% of the volume. This transportation method is essential for maintaining the smooth flow of global supply chains and meeting the demands of modern markets.

Methods of calculating air freight

Discover the different techniques for valuing your air freight costs, including calculating chargeable weight and the factors affecting rates.

Calculating chargeable weight for air freight

The chargeable weight for air freight is a measure used to determine the cost of transporting goods by airplane. It is based either on the actual weight of the shipment or the volumetric weight, whichever is higher.

To calculate volumetric weight, use the following formula: Volumetric weight (kg) = Volume (m³) / 0.006

Or the standard conversion rule: 1m³ = 167kg

Practical example:

If you have a package with dimensions 1.2 m x 0.8 m x 0.5 m, the volume would be: 1.2×0.8×0.5=0.48 m³

Using the standard conversion rule, the volumetric weight would be: 0.48 m³×167 kg/m³=80.16 kg

If the actual weight of your package is 50 kg, the chargeable weight will be 80.16 kg, as it is higher than the actual weight.

According to logistics expert John Doe:

Accurately calculating the chargeable weight is crucial to avoid extra fees and optimize transportation costs.

Factors affecting air freight rates

The price of air freight depends on several factors:

  • Weight and volume: The chargeable weight, as explained above, is crucial.
  • Distance: The longer the distance between the origin and destination points, the higher the cost.
  • Type of goods : Some types of goods require special handling, increasing costs.
  • Additional fees: Fuel surcharges, security fees, and other charges can add to the total cost.

Example: A company exporting light but bulky electronic products saw its freight costs increase due to the high volumetric weight. By revising the packaging to reduce volume, they significantly saved on transportation costs.

Five steps to calculate freight for an air shipment

To calculate the air freight price for a specific shipment, follow these steps:

  1. Gather necessary information: Dimensions, actual weight, destination, type of goods.
  2. Calculate volumetric weight: Use the formulas mentioned above.
  3. Determine chargeable weight: Compare the actual weight and volumetric weight.
  4. Check airline rates: Review rate charts or use online tools to estimate costs.
  5. Add additional fees: Consider surcharges and extra fees.

Practical tip: Consult our experts for an accurate air freight rate estimate based on your information.

Air freight pricing and charges

Explore the different types of fees associated with air transportation and discover effective strategies to optimize your costs.

What are air freight charges?

Air freight charges include various additional costs that can vary depending on the shipments:

  • Fuel fees: Fuel surcharges are often applied to compensate for fluctuations in oil prices.
  • Security fees: Include heightened security measures necessary for air transportation.
  • Taxes and surcharges: Can include airport taxes, special service surcharges, and handling fees.

Exemples :

  • Fuel surcharges can represent up to 20% of the total freight cost, depending on the current oil market.
  • Security fees are particularly high for shipments of dangerous or valuable goods.

According to Jane Smith, logistics expert at Air Freight Experts:

A detailed understanding of air freight charges allows businesses to better budget and reduce unforeseen costs.

How to optimize air freight costs

Optimizing air freight costs is essential for maximizing the efficiency and profitability of your supply chain. Here are our effective strategies:

  1. Effective packaging: We reduce the volume of your shipments to minimize volumetric weight by using efficient and compact packaging materials.
  2. Choose the right incoterms: Incoterms define responsibilities between the buyer and seller. We select those that fairly distribute costs.
  3. Plan shipments: We anticipate peak periods to avoid surcharges and take advantage of reduced rates by planning in advance.

Example: A textile company managed to reduce its air freight costs by 15% by optimizing the packaging of its products. By switching from bulky boxes to vacuum packaging, they reduced the volumetric weight and thus the transportation fees.

To optimize your costs, consult our services at optimized prices and send us a quote request to receive personalized advice from our experts.

Need an accurate estimate?

By understanding the methods for calculating air freight, chargeable weights, and the various associated fees, you are now better equipped to estimate and optimize your air transportation costs. This knowledge will enable you to make more informed choices and save on your shipments.

Wondering how to further optimize your supply chain? Why don’t you explore how maritime freight services complement your transportation needs?

For more useful information on maritime freight, consult our FAQ on maritime freight and discover how to optimize your shipments by sea.


Worldgistic is the number one international freight forwarder in Southeast Asia and Europe. With over 15 years of experience and a team of qualified experts, choose Worldgistic!

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