Supply Chain 101: How to Choose Between Air and Ocean Freight

Supply Chain 101: How to Choose Between Air and Ocean Freight

When delivering goods globally, you should first know flows and tolls of international trade. After that, you should decide the right freight according to your client’s necessities. Choosing the right freight for your delivery process is as important as any other regulation in trade globally. There are 2 types of freight you can use effectively when delivering materials abroad: airplane and ships. While airplane is faster, ship is cheaper. However, more than just time and money, there are more to consider when choosing freight for international shipment.

According to Jared Vineyard in Universal Cargo, there are 4 vital considerations you should pay attention.


While you might hear that shipping by ocean freight is cheaper, it is not necessarily the case. Vineyard advised that the best decision is by educating yourself of charge for international shipping. Usually, each country will have their own shipping cost. You can check the cost with your 3PL or by online. Generally, if you choose air shipping, they will charge you by weight of your goods. On the other hand, shipments through the ocean will charge you per container. However, each destination has additional charges to consider as well. Both by ocean or air, you will meet a custom and destination fees.

See also: Why Do Freight Rates Keep Fluctuating?


For business person, time is money. Therefore, they demand their goods to arrive as soon as possible. Air freight is considerably faster than ocean ones. By plane, your goods can arrive in country’s destination earlier and thus the fast service can guarantee customer’s satisfaction. However, thanks to today’s technology advancement, ships are getting lighter and faster as well, although they will not be as fast as air freight. Additionally, you need to remember that when shipping goods, you should consider your clients choices and needs, too. Sometimes, an individual traveller  prefers slower arrival for their goods, while retail business or grouped projects business wants faster arrival.


Reliability is the most-wanted perk business leaders seek in their delivery. Even a day or two delay of goods will cause a major effect. Flights, in this case, often get delayed by weather or technical problems. Yet, they tend to be on top of every schedule. Oceans are notorious for being on time. Therefore, it is better to talk with clients first or with your 3PL to decide which freights are better to use in each seasons.

Environmental impact

With today’s environmental issues, we all, including company and logistics, have responsibility to take care of the earth. Yet, both air and ocean freight will produce materials that harm planet. For example, air freight will produce higher CO2 emission because of the fuel they use. Meanwhile, oil spills on water ecosystem will give pause on choosing ocean freight. That being said, since both air and ocean might have bad impact on the environment, you can decide it with your 3PL party for decision which one is best for your business and environment. Note: choose environment-friendly freight.

Read also: Best 5 Machine Learnings Impacting Last Mile Delivery

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