Aviation Logistics Knowledge Lecture – The difference between express courier and air freight

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Aviation Logistics Knowledge Lecture – The difference between express courier and air freight

Do you often confuse by the difference between express courier and air freight? Now let’s figure it out.


We all know that air freight is using an airplane to transport the cargo, and express courier also uses airplanes. So is this mean they are the same? Absolutely NOT. They are only using the same transportation, but are totally different areas.


Air freight provides traditional airport-to-airport service, but the express courier provides door-to-door service. This is the major difference between these two types of transportation.

Air freight service requires the consignee to do the customs clearance at the destination on their own or through a local agent. The courier service can do the customs clearance on behalf of the consignee. But bear in mind, although the express courier service can clear the customs for the consignee, they will charge the consignee the duties and taxes if there are any.

From this point of view, you may think that the express courier provides better service since they already included the customs clearance at the destination. But let’s just don’t forget, the charges are already included in the courier charges. Due to the special process of the express couriers, they might have a simpler way of doing the customs clearance – clearing the shipment in batches.


If the express courier is so good, then why air freight can still survive? This is because not all shipments are suitable for express couriers. Usually, express couriers are designed for small shipments, something like under 21kg or 22kg. If the shipment weight is over this metric, then the charges will go high.

While air freight service is always calculated by the chargeable weight of the shipment. From 45kg to over 1000kg, it is always charged at the per-kg rate. For example, if a shipment is 50kg, the unit price (per-kg rate) is $3/kg, then the air freight rate would be 50kg x $3/kg = $150.00.

So if you have a small shipment and are not quite willing to handle the complicated customs process at the destination, then probably the express courier service is the best choice for you. But if the shipment is big, then using air freight is the more common way for sending your shipment – although it means you gotta find a local agent for you to clear the customs.

I hope you are clear about the difference between the express courier and air freight service, and now understand which one to choose when you have a consignment. I’ll see you next time.

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